And while I can't confidently exude my capability as a minimalist packer, I do thoroughly enjoy preparing for a weekend brimming with exciting outdoor activities.
The semi-annual trips up north are always a welcome addition to the mundane and occasionally slow periods of summer humidity.
And while I can't confidently exude my capability as a minimalist packer, I do thoroughly enjoy preparing for a weekend brimming with exciting outdoor activities.
A positive outlook on weak Wi-Fi signals is the opportunity it creates for off-screen interactions. For many Canadians - especially central-east coast citizens such as myself, we crave for nothing more than to be able to embrace the great outdoors as weather conditions permit. After all, it won't be long until piercing gusts and ample snowfall strike again.
Cycling, rowing, hiking, stargazing, and swimming are only a handful of the activities we partook in during our past and present stays, however the options remain as vast as your heart is capable of conjuring.
The previous night's tossing and turning had left a scarring impression. Lowering the room temperature helped to offset this pattern completely, which had me feeling a lot less sloth-like when morning rolled around.
Majority of the rest of the party were still snoozing away, so another trip to the gym was made. I caught up slightly on Absolute Boyfriend before heading out again. Interestingly enough, we had yet to drop by Barrie at all, consequently resulting in a modified series title for the purpose of maintaining accuracy.
We returned to Orillia - Lake Couchiching, to be exact. Instead of taking following the 30-kilometre bike path though, we were on the lookout for something else: an aquatic activity whose true potential could only be unlocked at temperatures of twenty degrees Celsius and greater.
Last year's weekday afternoon rowing segment had been successfully executed with courtesy of Narrows Canoe. Having planned this season's retreat around the predicted climate conditions, the activity happened to coincide with a weekend, which introduced a significantly larger number of rental options and destinations.
The top contenders were: A Breath of Fresh Air in Orillia, Swift Georgian Bay in Waubaushene, and Bass Lake in Oro-Medonte. Swift's coordinates fell outside our geographic scope for the day, and also appeared to rent kayaks on a daily basis as opposed to the hourly we were considering; Bass Lake was fees were steep as could be at $30 per hour per individual kayak/canoe/paddle board. By process of elimination, A Breath of Fresh Air seemed most suited to our needs. That along with the fact that it wasn't far from Cafe Seoulista, a spot I desperately wanted to revisit before our departure. (I mean, it only seemed fitting to grab an icy, post-kayaking treat, right?)
A Breath of Fresh Air wasn't too difficult to find. Google Maps had specified a location north of the pop-up, though we were eventually able to locate Al and his kayaks by shifting our gaze to the
He warned us of the windy weather prior to waiver collection, even noting that the safest path was to travel along the shoreline and allow the waters to return us back to shore later onwards. We were also kindly provided the option of paying afterwards, such that our time on the water wasn't restricted.
The kayaks were vivid in hue, and much easier to control than the heavier ones present at Kayakity-Yak's stall at Tudhope Park. Most important to note was the price difference: only a mere nine dollars were charged per hour! For our ninety-minute session, the total came to fourteen per person; the half hour had been rounded up to the nearest dollar.
Along the dock were calmer waters; rougher waves met us as we inched north, but we persevered until just past Fittons Road, a point marked by a trio of luscious shrubbery, before turning back. Newly acquired for the return paddle were sore shoulders and a very discernible band-aid tan.
Clouds appeared to be copied and pasted across the sky: all very uniform. Almost reminiscent of those Windows XP window glitches, where dragging a frozen window across the screen would result in identical, translated images.
By the time we pulled into the sandy dock area, the clock read 2:30 PM. The fastest source of sustenance resided with the hot dog and hamburger shack just outside the parking lot, however other members of the party suggested heading directly to Cafe Seoulista in the name of time. We did just that, since any further detours would have delayed our suppertime.
The smiley couple welcomed us back into their cozy café. With a larger group in tow, they assisted us in combining a two-seater with their largest four-person table.
Savoury options were minimal at the establishment, so the famished members of the party simply opted for a Croissant Sandwich (with a $1.99 side of organic greens). Turkey Breast or Ham acted as the main source of protein; fresh tomatoes, sliced cheese, and a light layer of dressing were the remaining constituents.
Airy and buttery were the croissants, and slightly moist rather than flaky. This precise texture paired well in a sandwich formation, all while eliminating the fallout commonly experienced with the fragile, fresh-from-the-oven renditions. Each individual component within could be tasted without fear of overpowering its partners; the inclusion of seasonings had been done tastefully as well - adequate amounts contributed depth of flavour instead of outright overkill.
< Pictured above and below: Ham Croissant Sandwich, Turkey Breast Croissant Sandwich, Brewed Coffee, Ice Cube Latte, Red Bean Latte, Honey Brick Toast, Banana Chocolate Bingsoo, Mango Bingsoo >
Brewed Coffee was presented in a muted mint mug, its no-nonsense appeal offset with a cute cat spoon.
My own choice of drink had bounced between the Korean Apricot Tea (otherwise known as "Green Plum/Apricot" or 매실) and Honey Oolong Iced Tea at first. It was later that my eyes fell upon the "Espresso Bar" section, in which the Seoulista Blend and Ice Cube Latte swiftly booted the less caffeinated options out of mind. The former was depicted as a Korean-style Double Double, bearing no more sweetness than that of Timmies' original. Considering my lack of fondness for the national concoction, I steered myself in the latter direction.
It wasn't my first time seeing an Ice Cube Latte, but Seoulista's variation instantly distinguished itself from the rest. Organic lactose-free milk is poured on top of several cubes of frozen espresso, intensifying in concentration over time as opposed to being diluted. As the coffee ice slowly disintegrated, a cool slushy effect was also witnessed.
An initial concern on my part was that the Ice Cube Latte was only available in one size: Large. However, I quickly grew to enjoy and savour the drink as it underwent its three stages of evolution. Bold, flavourful, and potent, it's easily a great choice for coffee lovers looking to extend the life of their typical iced latte on a scorching summer day. One also had the option adding sweetener or leaving it "Black" (my pick).
The first day had terminated with a restless night of overheating, terribly soft pillows, and maximum stuffiness. I awoke to a different issue every two hours or so, then eventually to the buzzing tune of Morning Flower.
There was no time to lose. Glancing outside at the sunny skies - with tufts of fluffy clouds like outstretched arms - I prepared a relatively familiar breakfast, in a relatively unfamiliar residence.
My participation in an AquaFit session spanned forty-five minutes. Water aerobics was an activity I hadn't tried before, especially not the morning classes with my sordid sleeping patterns. It was fun and engaging: a low-impact, resistance routine that felt like play time at the pool.
Feasting locations had been researched the night before, thus there was no hesitation towards our lunch destination. Such plans entailed a drive to Orillia, where we would reside for the remainder of sunlight hours.
The Shack Eatery had surfaced on my radar; depicted as a wonderful spot offering comfort food in the form of ribs and pulled pork sandwiches, we inputted the address and off we went!
It was a shack, in the most literal sense. Even with the assistance of navigation technology, I had managed to zip by without batting an eyelash. There was a drastic difference between expectation and reality. Having said that, to dismiss the restaurant as a result of its gritty gravel parking lot or unassuming storefront would have been a loss on our parts.
Being located at the corner of a busy intersection (West Street S and Hwy 12) meant a solid scene capable of appealing to both travellers and workers of the nearby industrial businesses, and we were about to discover just exactly what the restaurant was capable of delivering.
The menu was straightforward - just as advertised on its website. Fuss-free "Shackwiches" and "Shack Plates" were the only two options available, and, frankly speaking, the only ones necessary in leaving an impact. Smoked Sausage, Pulled Pork/Beef/Chicken, and Smoked Ribs were the primary focus of these orders. Sandwiches could be ordered solo or in combo format to include a side and (soft) drink, while Plates included up to three sides.
< Pictured above and below: Pulled Beef Bun and Pulled Chicken Plate >
Generously portioned between two halves of a soft kaiser bun were tender sections of slow-cooked, seasoned beef. The roll was lightly dressed with a mild sauce (though one could have opted for medium or hot), horseradish (optional), and the most mindblowing moiety of sweet caramelized onions. The Pulled Beef Bun hit all the right notes, leaving us feeling utterly satisfied.
Read Part 1 HERE !
Because of the previous day's ceaseless rainfall, we had thought it a better idea to steer clear of gravel paths. A ridiculously informative website enabled me to select a trail that aligned most accurately with our needs, including time restrictions and location preferences.
Uhthoff Trail commenced in Orillia, then crossed Hwy 11 into the township of Severn. Categorized as an "Easy" thirty kilometres with parking available by Lake Couchiching, it was also listed to be part of the Trans Canada Trail. Curiosity piqued, we had loaded our bikes back into the car in preparation for a quick ride.
Two-way, paved bicycle lanes curved about the shoreline, just between Couchiching Beach and its several parking lots. We followed this path until Jarvis Street, where I took a daring turn into the woods instead of continuing on paved asphalt.
Contrary to our initial belief, the ground was not sodden at all. We swung onto Lightfoot Trail with ease, then followed its slope-less path to the next intersection. It remained sturdy underneath our wheels, while the trees diffused harsh UV rays from the skies above.
Past Wilson Point Road was Millennium Trail, which eventually turned to gravel and wound underneath Hwy 11.
We persevered until just past Division Road, then readily stopped for a break by a small creek.
The entire trail was largely devoid of elevation changes - and defining landscapes too for that matter. Uhthoff made for a rather uninteresting ride, but nonetheless a good escape from UV rays and muddiness. Trenches had been dug on both sides of the trails, presumably to assist with drainage of the main path.
The start of another Barrie trip commenced with a disarray of last-minute packing. And by "last-minute", I mean scrambling to gather not only outdoor clothing, but also downsizing skincare essentials with the departure time ticking down to its final sixty minutes.
It was early afternoon as we made our way northwest. Lunch was skipped, naturally, due to the deadline that lay before me; instead, an Egg McMuffin, Iced Coffee, and Nature Valley Bar summed up the components of my mid-day meal.
The forecast had warned of precipitation, but little was I aware that the droplets would only increase in size and density with every passing minute. To say that it was merely pouring when we pulled in was an understatement: it was raining cats and dogs!
As such, we turned to indoor activities for the remainder of the day - namely a brief gym session (where I finally caught up with a bit of Absolute Boyfriend) followed by swimming. The events eased us into the evening, simultaneously leaving us ravenous yet uninspired to hunt for sustenance beyond a 10-kilometre radius.
Food delivery services were nonexistent, whether it be Foodora, UberEats, SkipThe Dishes - you name it. The luxuries of urban and suburban neighbourhoods could not be applied here. It was then that we bit the bullet and dove back into the car, taking no breaks until we arrived near the highway exit.
Amiche Restaurant had been passed by on several occasions, whether it be to visit Chelsea Chocolates or simply since it was situated at a busy tourist(y) intersection. For the duration of our visit, it wasn't too busy. Rather, guest volumes had seemed to slow with the angry patter, leaving both the asphalt lot and interior relatively quiet.
We were seated immediately, then shortly provided menus and our beverages of choice. The waitress batted not even an eyelash at my frizzy head of post-swimming waves - "volume" as orangecane calls it - which was something I greatly appreciated in my famished state.
The menu was scanned briefly, and items of interest were narrowed down accordingly. Primarily Italian with a few options for pub grub (this term never fails to bring a grin to my face), we settled two dishes: one carby and the other protein-heavy. As Bruschetta seemed to be a prominent side on quite a number of assortments, I suggested adding the nine-dollar appetizer to start. This was later revealed a very poor decision on my part.
Given its title of a "Social House", I had anticipated orders to be received, processed, and delivered at a leisurely pace. Perhaps it was due to the low flow of traffic, but the Bruschetta emerged without much delay, and the entrées followed after a mere ten minutes of its complete consumption.
< Pictured above and below: Bruschetta, Seafood Linguine, and Brie and Asparagus Stuffed Chicken >
As per the explicit foreshadowing in my last entry, we headed straight for Barrie the next morning.
Chelsea Chocolates has earned itself a spot on our itinerary for the past several visits. As our regular runs take place in the late afternoon, the we've always missed out on the factory tours held between 9 AM and 3 PM. We made it a mission to attend this time.
Behind the boutique area is an integrated preparation area equipped with more tools and machinery than thinkable for an independent chocolate shop of its size.
As crafting and packing operations were underway, we were informed of chocolate tempering specifics as well as the science behind various cocoa-based creations.
It was learned that storebought chocolate bars contain about 8% cocoa, with the remaining percentage assumed by some sort of "filler" ingredient. Chelsea Chocolate's in-house creations contain 52-53% cocoa (or some amount along those lines that I cannot recall precisely).
The weekend welcomed us with scattered showers and minimal sunshine. To combat the lack of summer-appropriate weather and inability to go for a second round of swimming, we dove into the car and drove (even further) up north.
Gravenhurst was about forty minutes away in the municipality of Muskoka. The trip was tedious, if anything, as landmarks of interest were scarce along the curves of Hwy 11. A curated playlist of upbeat tunes aided in relieving tension. I was nowhere thrilled to be potentially engaging in another meal at Dock of the Bay and thus was promised alternatives when we neared the port.
Passing through a sidewalk sale on the streets of Muskoka Road, it took a total of two U-turn before I found my way to the asphalt lot surrounded by tourist traps.
The skies were dreary, unlike our last visit. This didn't stop half of our party from parading the port with noise pollution, however. Rather, a lengthy period of snapping touristy photos ensued before we could gather the entirety of the group for lunch.
Adamant about not returning to Dock of the Bay and all of its unpleasantness, I suggested The Blue Willow. First and foremost, it was close in proximity and offered a decent view of the lake. Secondly, it offered a type of cuisine uncommon to the area: English-style afternoon tea.
As with many tea shops, The Blue Willow possesses its own selection of loose leaf teas, scones, and fruit preserves (ie. jam). Tables are few within the establishment, and all seating by the window had been reserved well in advance.
View the full album HERE !
The early bird gets the worm, which, in this case, is the benefit of additional time to invest in one's regular duties.
Commencing with a morning swim, then a leisurely lunch of leftovers from the previous evening, the day was off to a solid, unwasteful manner.
Following this was a drive to Orillia - very much a request on my part. The previous years of rowing had been of utmost enjoyment to me, so it was only fitting to relive the scene come warm weather season.
As opposed to embarking from J.B. Tudhope Park, on the north side of Hwy 12, we sourced Narrows Canoe as an alternative to Kayak-ity-Yak. Located southeast of the family-friendly park, it allowed for direct entry into the waters without unneeded exposure to sandy silts. The business owners were exceptionally friendly, and even directed our attention to a map, noting the calm and turbulent areas. Considering that this was private property, there were, regrettably, no public bathrooms nor changerooms available.
Opting for this route contributed a dose of uncertainty, further enhancing curiosity levels as well as an overall sense of adventurism. The two-hour trip was exhilarating: The Narrows were calm, but the channel (underneath Hwy 12) was expansive and busy. Small bays were filled with pristine waters, delicate blue dragonflies, and lush shrubbery - an awe-inducing sight indeed. The return trip was less tranquil, however, with opposing currents posing a tiring challenge to already fatigued muscles.
Regardless, the entire ordeal yielded an experience that was more than just satisfactory; the path less travelled was indeed enthralling. I honestly can't wait to so it again!
The ideal post-rowing treat is a delicious double scoop from Sweet Dreams. Visiting on a weekday negated this possibility, as both the dessert parlour and adjacent savoury sustenance booth were shuttered.
With hunger catching up to me at a hanger-inducing rate, I aggressive proposed a trip to Webers for immediate fulfillment.
With a twenty-minute drive ahead of us (and then a coiling lineup for the popular charcoal barbecued burgers), achieving sustenance wasn't instantaneous. That said, it remained a swifter process than travelling elsewhere for sluggish restaurant service.
Actually, the process was rather swift given the lineup. Several members of staff would manually take orders from customers in the lineup, mark requested items on an inventory list, then deliver it to the kitchen for processing. The bill would then be printed and cash flow would occur while in wait. Notably efficient was how staff members carried exact amounts of change in anticipation for patrons paying bills of $15.55 with a twenty-dollar bill.
The semi-annual trip to Simcoe County resumes for another summer!
As a resident of the suburbs (with constant metropolitan influence), it is admittedly rare to find myself away from a screen and shops, even if the surrounding community poses more than enough opportunities to embrace it.
Major retail stores are spotted less frequently up north, and the same goes for the presence of public transit routes. Several of the roads do not intersect, which means travel time can be extended from a mere ten- to fifteen-minute drive to thirty minutes and beyond to cover the same distance.
By the time we had exited the 400, it was already late afternoon. Issues with a bathroom leakage further delayed our scheduled activities.
The original plan of biking around the area was postponed due to time restrictions. Instead, we slathered on formulas of SPF 50 PA+++ and headed to the pool for some weekend getaway-appropriate Vitamin E exposure.
Vicious UV rays shone down upon us, leaving their mark in the form of noticeably darker pigmentation of the epidermis.
For our first meal of the weekend, I suggested Pie Wood. Our experience at the downtown location had been wonderful: flashbacks of Big Quack and Tsunami resounded in my mind, distinctly vivid in spite of the fatigue I had accumulated from the early early morning 7 for 7 VLive Showcase.
My companions were less excited at this suggestion, with the primary reason being that one member in particular was less fond of cheese than the rest of us. Gritting their teeth, they agreed to try Pie Wood's Mapleview location.
We were seated on an empty patio on a slow weekday evening.
Gushingly friendly were the staff members, especially our waitress. She was more than happy to share her recommendations with us, even providing additional details on the Featured Soup - which apparently is swapped out for a new flavour every week on the account of the chef. Her descriptions relative to the size of the dishes were frankly not as on par with our petite appetites, though this was not a large issue.
I guess my only complaint was that utensil and napkin sets were forgotten even after delivery of our starters.
Drink orders were taken to start, followed by the delivery of salad and soup.
The Pie Salad was a more substantial portion than we pictured for slick fragments of chopped lettuce, arugula, and baby spinach. Coated profusely in a red wine vinaigrette that was more oil than vinegar, we picked at a few pieces before shoving the bowl aside. I have recently grown absentminded, carelessly neglecting the importance of specifying dressing on the side.
< Pictured above and below: Ginger Ale, Pie Salad, French Onion Soup, More Cowbell Pie, St. Lucia Pie (Light Cheese), and Nutty Pie >
It's about time the annual Thanksgiving trip to Barrie rolled around. But alas, instead of spending long weekend leisurely going about photographing fall foliage and sipping on cinnamon-laced apple cider, such activities have been replaced by stressful streams of schoolwork, errand-running, and the like.
Reading Week is rough. Sigh.
Seeing as GOT7's < 7 For 7 > Showcase involved me awaking to roaring, rainy gusts in the wee hours of the morning, motivation to embark on CBR- and steel member calculations was in absolute absence. We set out for a brisk trip up north instead.
Chelsea Chocolates, whom we had the wonderful opportunity to discover earlier in the year, was not only open but offered an astounding range of Thanksgiving- and Halloween-themed treats.
Needless to say, we stocked up on ice wine chocolates, assorted truffles, chocolate-covered pretzel sticks, and more to curb cocoa-infused cravings.
Given the comfortable above-seasonal temperatures, the Downtown Barrie BIA was deemed a suitable destination for lunch. Thus, the hunt began for a brunch/eatery whose doors were open for the statutory holiday.
Two failed attempts later, Pie Wood appeared on our radar. A quick call to the establishment confirmed their operating status, and off we went.
Situated in a spacious private lot, the restaurant provided ample parking spots in addition to both indoor seating and outdoor patio tables. We initially chose a lengthy communal/group table along the perimeter of the seating area; while I appreciated the accessibility of individually-wrapped utensil sets and the standing double-sided menu arranged in advance, its surface was sticky and its crevices lined with crumbs and unidentifiable fragments, presumably remnants from the meals of previous diners. The menus, as I should mention, were also on the sticky side. However, I hadn't expected the most pristine environment for a family-friendly eatery with a finger food-heavy selection.
A similar case lay with the restrooms. With the exception of an air jet hand dryer, the facilities were generally weathered: trickling streams from the faucet rendered hand-washing inefficient, while sliding locks had been relocated to the lower quarter of the plastic door for reasons beyond me. Flushing capabilities were also compromised by aged toilets.
Eventually, we requested transferring to the outdoor patio, despite the presence of several substantially-sized bees. Weather conditions were fabulous, as were the beaming rays of blinding sushine. The bees were quite a nuisance to many diners, though many took to returning indoors in fear of stings; I had no issues with stomping on whichever pest remained stationary for sufficiently long periods though.
As the name suggests, Pie Wood's specialty lay with wood-fired pizzas. Prior to stepping foot inside the establishment, I anticipated carb-laden mounds presented in a similar fashion to Goodfellas. The products we received, however, were far more enjoyable that I would have imagined. All dishes were absolutely wonderful and completely deserving of their top rank on Yelp amongst Downtown Barrie restaurants.
A starter of Wood Fired Chicken Wings commenced the meal. Eight pieces in a small order for $13.75 or a Family size for ten dollars extra, the dish consisted of three individual elements: coleslaw on a bed of arugula, a mini mountain of sticky, flavourful wings, and a creamy Blue Cheese dipping sauce. The wings were scrumptious, which is a difficult statement for me - a being unfond of chicken skin - to make. Each bite-sized pieces sported a viscous veil of honey, fine shreds of rosemary, and a mild hint of spice. Folded within the accompanying container were bits of savoury curds, which acted as a nice contrast to the distinct sweet-and-spicy wing marinade
View the full album HERE !
Who Am I?
I'm the one that talks fashion and K-Pop randoms behind Quirky Aesthetics, the one who contributes honest opinions about commercial beauty items on Review Junkie, the one that obsessively shares photos of food on Pinterest, the one that loves her DSLR more than her own being and the one that wants to work in the transportation sector for a living.