Boggy Creek Airboat Ride

If you like adventure and nature you will LOVE air boat rides!!!  These boats get up to 50 miles an hour! 
There are many outfits around that provide airboat rides but we chose Boggy Creek because it’s fairly close to our Vacation Rental home in Kissimmee (they are located on East Lake Tohopekaliga and it’s a about 30-40 minute drive) and they have a high standard for safety.  

There are several tours available – check out thier website for details  www.bcairboats.com

We took the basic  30 min tour for about $26 but there are plenty of coupons  – check brouchure stands at hotels/restaurants and even our club house at Windsor Palms).

  Just on the 30 minute tour we spotted many birds including this Greater Egret.  If you are an avid birder they have private tours which will allow you to get up close to several species. 

 I am sure with the private tour you can request that they look for specific birds and stop
for you to take photos – our tour stopped but since we weren’t the only people on board
it wasn’t right to make them wait for us to get the perfect shot! 

OR we would have been able to post the picture of the pair of Bald Eagles we saw pearched
in these trees…  but I am not going to bore you with blurry photos!

 

 It’s a fairly noisy ride but they provide these SUPER cool looking protective ear gear
don’t worry about looking like a dork ’cause everyone else is doing it!

Our Captain/Tour Guide pulled over to show us a gator that was hanging out on the shoreline… which just
confirms (in my mind) that you should NOT go swimming in lakes in Florida!  

It was a worth while trip to Lake Tohopekaliga!  and NEXT time we are signing up for the night
tour – I AM SURE they see lots of gators on that tour!

 


Our Favourite Things to do in Canmore, Banff, Kananaskis,

Here is a quick list of things we have compiled over the years of things to do & see that can keep you busy around the Canmore/Banff National Park area. This is mainly focused around the town, hikes/natural activities. See our website for more Canmore/Banff Activies:

1 day in and around Canmore (boardwalk at Policeman’s Creek, Grassi Lakes, historic downtown)

1 day in and around the town of Banff, Banff Gondola, Chateau Banff, Hot Springs

1 day at Lake Louise, Moraine Lake & Lake Peyto, possibly Parker Ridge Trail if you are up for an approximately 3 hour hike, or from Lake Louise over to Emerald Lake & Takakkaw falls.

Glacier Tour – on the way out of Banff in to Jasper you can do a glacier, we’ve never done the tour myself but it is very popular.

Chateau Banff, Chateau Lake Louise are worth driving by – both great massive older hotels.

1 day heading out to Emerald Lake in Yoho National Park in BC.  Gorgeous lake that is often less busy than Lake Louise and just over 90 minutes from the condo.  For train buffs there are some interesting stops to see how trains make it through the Canadian Rockies.

1 day in Kananaskis Country (south of Canmore), a less known, but beautiful area

Possibly a hike in Johnston Canyon

Possibly a hike to the Ink Pots in Banff National Park

Possibly Vermilion Lake area

Hikes – I’m not 100% sure of some of the spelling of the names… Lake Moraine Lake just before Chateau Lake Louise (usually less crowded in the summer) – not really a hike but a gorgeous lake. Hike up to the Lake Agnes Tea House at Lake Louise (once at this tea house you can do the Two Teahouse Trail which connects you to the other tea house and saves you from going all the way down and back up another trail). Johnston Canyon, Ink Pots trails in Banff. If you go up to Jasper then Lake Peyto is worth looking at (very emerald green color lake and the hiking path allows you to look down over the lake). Grassi Lakes a short drive from my Condo. There are so many decent hikes in the area, those are a few of the more common hikes. They are more popular hikes because they are easy to moderate hikes and have great scenery

Kananaskis Village – there are a number of nice hikes in the area. The 1988 Downhill skiing events where held out of here and Nakiska (the name of the ski resort). About 45 minutes south of Canmore – a nice drive to see where the plains meet the mountains. You see much of the same on the way from the airport to Canmore. However, once you are back in to Kananaskis village you get some great mountain scenery.

 

Heading away from the parks:

Possibly a day out to the badlands near Drumheller and the Royal Tyrrell Museum if you have any dinosaur lovers in your group (about 1.5 hours east of Calgary)

Possibly a day in downtown Calgary, if you are interested in seeing the city of Calgary and are okay giving up a day in the mountains to do some city activities

Calgary Stampede – I believe it starts at the beginning of July – not sure whether you will be too early. Excellent chance to see the classic western cowboys in action.

Tyrell Museum – great if anyone in the family likes dinosaurs

 

As well as the Activities page on my website, all of the places above have lots of information on them if you do a Google, or Bing search. Most of the places around Canmore will have lots of tourism information on these places, as well, I’ve left guide books in the unit that you can look at.


MY Spring Fashion week 2011… LA to New York

Part 1 Fashion Island

Despite all my throwing around of the word ‘LA’,  we actually spend very little time in the actual County of Los Angeles  – we spend about 5 weeks a year visiting with our friends who live in Orange County California and MAYBE a day or two out of that we drive through or go into LA for a day… we don’t even fly in & out of LAX anymore -we use the local airport  – it’s great!  We can be on the freeway within 20 minutes of landing at the John Wayne Airport – we can’t even get our bags at LAX in that time! 

As a Visual Merchandising Consultant I am always looking for new ideas and inspiration for store layout, merchandising, displays and window design.  This morning I woke up early and wandered around Fashion Island in Newport Beach.  I fell in love with this mall a few years ago because of its outside shopping center style and the large cabana style seating areas – not to mention all my favourite stores.

Unfortunately, today I only had my husbands 7D camera… not exactly a discrete camera to take photos where you are not supposed to… taking photos in a store or mall is a BIG NO-NO, security often acts like it is illegal… I’ve been given the choice many times to either put away my camera or be escorted out of the store or mall, so I have learned to be careful not to get caught… and this time I didn’t get may good photos… I, like all the other visual merchandisers, marketers and designers have to pretend we are checking messages on our Blackberries to snap a photo on our phones or gather in groups to hide the camera to quickly grab the shot… we all steal ideas!  I remember working in catalogue marketing years ago and we would order the competitors catalogues & flyers so we could look through them for ideas on layouts and product shots.  What was really great was when we see our ideas being recycled in THEIR catalogues!  I took it as a compliment!  and I still do today – I saw Lululemon using MY idea in their window this winter!

 

I just LOVE these Anthropologie widows – they made two dresses out of drycleaner hangers! The widow doesn’t have any of products they actually sell but it’s so creative and fun!

 

 

 

I LOVE Kate Spade…

But.,. even with a great marketing campaign:

Colour is a cleaver thing.

It makes the world bolder, brighter, better….

I still can not embrace the florescent colours… twice.  I was part of it in the 80’s and I will not be participating this time around.

 This was not the only store I spotted the florescent colours – they were EVERYWHERE… i am beginning to think i might have to come around on this one and pull out my oversized Frankie goes to hollywood RELAX tee. 

But those aren’t merchandising & Display trends… stores are still selling though the winter stuff , so today I spotted lots of sale windows still… as the new product comes in the windows are starting to transition into wonderful spring inspired themes.  RENOVATIONS are a HUGE theme this year… in ladies & men’s fashions… do you find that odd too?   

Many of the stores had ladders, paint cans and one store went as far as a pile of staircase spindles and mannequins were planted amongst them – it wasn’t a particularly attractive window and me with my BIG camera, I didn’t want to get kicked out by taking THAT photo.    

 

This is just one of its nearly 40 restaurants in Fashion Island… there’s also a CheeseCake Factory!!!!  I love that it feels warm to me but they have the patio heaters on for the native Californians!


The Richard Petty Ride-a-long Experience at Walt Disney World Speedway in Orlando

This is no ordinary Disney ride boys & girls!  These are REAL 600hp NASCAR automobiles.  I only did a ride along, but there are 4 different programs available & with a little training you can even drive the car yourself! 

Here’s me and my driver Dave, he drove wonderfully fast!  About 140mph! … that’s about 225 km/hr

And here’s the car!  I don’t know why I am posing like Vanna White, this is not Wheel of Fortune!  I think I actually went to hug the car but it was REALLY hot….

Here’s a VIDEO of me racing around the track http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ay8B_D9_OvQ

Here’s a VIDEO of me getting out of the car Dukes of Hazard style http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jSxoyxkeun8&feature=mfu_in_order&list=UL

AND on December 24th the in car video that the nice folks at Richard Petty taped for me showed up in my mail box – Merry Christmas to me!!!!!  ENJOY! http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=clUjvokg08Q

 

 I was supposed to do the Richard Petty Rookie Experience which includes class room lessons & 8 laps of solo driving in an authentic NASCAR around the speedway!… I LOVE cars & speed, so this was my dream come true!  So?…why didn’t I do it?  When we arrived at the Walt Disney World Speedway the track was wet…I haven’t driven standard in many years….I knew I would go faster and get a better experience if I got a pro to drive… and THAT’S my reason for not doing the Rookie Driving Experience and I am sticking to it!  PLEASE do not ask me again!

Despite my disappointment in myself (for not doing the rookie experience as planned), it was a great experience and I would recommend it to anyone who likes NASCAR or even just driving fast!


The Pearl Factory: A Unique Experience Found in Downtown Disney

There are many, many, many things to do in Disney World, one the coolest experience I had was ‘hunting’ for my own oyster, harvesting the pearl and making it into a necklace… It’s a company called The Pearl Factory www.pearl-factory.com and they have a kiosk in Down Town Disney (near pooh corner).  You simply show up and for $15.99 you can harvest an oyster and find a pearl. 

 

Here’s me giddy with joy that I am going to find a pearl… you are free to pick whatever oyster you wish but, the jeweller gave me a hint to pick the ugliest oyster… I picked both ugly & large!  You are guaranteed to find a pearl or you get to pick again and on a rare occasion you can find 2 pearls in an oyster! 

Here’s my Oyster- NOW, let’s see what’s inside!  But first you must repeat a traditional Hawaiian saying,  and tap three times.  Mele Kalikinaka to me!!!

 

Here’s what I found in my large, ugly oyster… They measured and assessed my pearl – it’s a beautiful, size 8 pearl with a touch of pink!  It’s worth approx $180.00!  The colour of my pearl represents  passion & beauty.

Now you have the choice to just take your pearl or have it set into a piece of jewellery – they have everything from rings to necklaces and more, and the settings start at $10 for a costume jewellery setting to several hundred dollars for gold with diamond accents.  It’s such a valuable pearl I decided on spending a bit more but opted out on the diamonds. 

  Mahalo nui loa!  (Thank you very much)


Spotted with my scope… (1)

  

We bought a scope (Kowa TSN-884) to take photos of our Vacation Rental Properties… getting upclose & personal with the monkey’s in Costa Rica AND to view fields full of magestic Sandhill cranes on Manitoulin Island without disrupting nature!  Here are a few photos we took around our home…  Stayed tuned for more photos from all our properties!    

These two photos are kind of a cheat… we didn’t actually take the photos of the Little Blue Heron & the Anhinga drying it’s wings, BUT it was the reason we now own a scope!  our tour guide in Carara Park in Costa Rica took them with his scope by holding up my pentax point and shoot camera – YUP, that’s right a 4.0 megapixel point and shoot camera took these photos! 

  

Anhinga, Carara Park, Costa Rica, Central America

The remainder of the photos are taken by us and you can tell we are still learning.  At first we tried holding up the camera to the lense of the scope – freehand but eventually we broke down and purchased the camera attachment. 

 

Heron in Carara Park Costa Rica
Heron, Cambridge Ontario, Canada

This Heron photo was taken in our yard in Cambridge Ontario, Canada… I know it shouldn’t surprise me  – they CAN fly!!!  So I don’t know why it impresses me that the same type of bird that is found in Costa Rica in the winter is found in our back yard in the spring.  

Hawk, Cambridge Ontario, Canada

Hairy OR Downy...I really don't know - Our Yard, Cambridge Ontario, Canada

Male Cardinal in our yard, Cambridge Ontario, Canada

  

Blue Jay on a very cold day, Cambridge Ontario, Canada
 

 

 Hope you enjoyed the photos & keep checking back because I will post more photos that I ‘spotted with my scope’!  and Next time it will be photos from Costa Rica… get up close & personal with birds, monkeys and crocodiles!  

 

  

 

  

  


Cleveland

I know what you are thinking…. CLEVELAND???
If you are looking for a weekend getaway within driving distance from south western Ontario – you should check out Cleveland. This was one of the best surprises we have come across in a long time. It reminds me of a cross between Washington DC with all its large stately buildings and memorials, Montreal with its pedestrian only streets lined with sidewalk cafes and patios and New York City for its Theatre District.

We used hotwire to book our hotel and scored a room in this gorgeous four star Historical Downtown Hyatt hotel that normally rents for $179/night and up to $550 a night (that’s what it said on the back of the door!!!) for just $50!  I LOVE hotwire!!!  Our room overlooked east 4th street, was spacious and clean. 

We could have hung out on east 4th street the entire weekend.  Happy hour means $1 domestic beers and half price appetizers!    There’s something for everyone here from pub grub to fine dining and we even found this great place called the green house that not only has it’s own local gardens and works with local farms to provide a great dinner with a low carbon foot print but, they have even taken the interior decor into consideration when renovation this old building – the cool barrel style chandeliers are made from old bicycle tires!!!    AND THE FOOD WAS AMAZING! 

This being the 4th of July weekend and our lesser known July 1st holiday weekend (Canadian Holiday to celebrate Canada’s Birthday) we expected some fire works but were blown away with the nightly light show from Thursday to Sunday!  It was wonderful! 

 We didn’t get any photos (because you know how hard it is to watch fireworks and photograph them?!?!?!) but this is where we sat and watched them – they exploded between the bridge and the skyline – ahhhh, it was gorgeous!  This restaurant was pretty good too – called the Ponte Vecchio – translated means Old Bridge.  It’s in a weird spot  – litterally located on an old bridge and not really in the best neighbourhood, but once the sun goes down and you look at this view you will understand it’s location. 

We found ourselves wandering the streets, taking in the scenery and snapping so many photos we ran out of time and had to choose between the science center – which I hear is super cool with it’s hundreds of hand on exhibits, indoor tornado, and many more exciting displays…. AND the Rock and Roll hall of fame – we chose rock and roll baby!  It was very cool to see the clothing, cars, video clips, letters, postcards and music sheets written by the musical greats such as The Rolling Stones, Beatles and Cindy Lauper.  There are no interior photos of the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame because photos were prohibited!  There is a free coat & camera check on the lower level.  AND I GOT TO SEE A MOCK UP CASE!!!… very similar to my work as a visual merchandiser!  A mock up case is a place the exhibit creators make a mock up of the merchandise they are going to receive to give them a visual of what it’s going to look like when the real artefacts arrive. 

We learned that Jim Morrison’s grave is the most visited place in all of Paris – i thought it would have been the Eiffel Tower or the Mona Lisa!  …who knew?

Hope you enjoy Cleveland as much as we did!


Hamilton Waterfront

 

Hamilton Ontario Waterfront has gone through some changes in the past few years.  It has been transformed into a great park with over 12 km of waterfront trails that are shared amongst walkers, joggers, cyclists and roller bladders. 

 A few weeks ago we went for a walk on the trail that circles Bay Front Park and we spotted many birds and water fowl including a Robin, Tern, Geese, a family of Swans, King Fisher, Gold Finch, Red Winged Black bird, Chickadees, Sparrows, Killdeer, Mallards, we also spotted a painted turtle. 

Bring a picnic or sit under one of the gazebos, take the wireless trolley or explore the parks Canada Discovery Centre… there are tons of things to do down here!!! 

Check out the website at www.hamiltonwaterfront.com  for more information. 

We finished off our tour of the area with a nice late lunch at Barangas on the Beach – if you haven’t heard of this place you HAVE to check it out www.barangas.ca .  Good food!  Live music! gorgeous view!

Enjoy!


Calgary Stampede

The Greatest outdoor show on earth…

Calgary Stampede
Calgary Stampede

The top professional cowboys compete at this world class event.  There are rodeos, chuck wagon races, cattle penning, and concerts during this 10 day event. The calgary stampede is held yearly in July, check out the website for exact dates www.calgarystampede.com

I wasn’t sure we would enjoy the stampede because we aren’t cowboys and don’t usually listen to Country Music but we had a great time and look forward to atteding again soon!  Only next time I am going to make sure we wear Stetsons, cowboy boots and matching western shirts!    Our favorite event was the cattle penning.


Our Favorite Restaurants on Manitoulin Island

 

Homemade Breakfast sandwich and fresh brewed coffee at the Teepee take out in near the Ferry Dock

A variety of fare is available on the Island and most of it is homemade!  Here is our top restaurant list… in no particular order – although they all have their own distinct charm and a favourite item or meal I look forward to ordering!

TEEPEE TAKE-OUT – located near the ferry dock in South Baymouth this small Take out counter is a perfect place to get a pizza made to order or a sub with a fresh homemade bun – but my favourite… maybe it’s because this place is on the way home and if you take an early ferry it’s very convenient – is the home made breakfast sandwich that is made to order and is delicious with a cup of fresh brewed coffee.  Eat in their internet cafe, outside picnic area or take it to go! 

ROUTE 50… BAR & GRILL – located 2236, Hwy 551 in Mindemoya,( 705) 377-7040
with a 1950’s atmosphere and generous portions this restaurant is a regular one for us.   I always get a greek salad for a starter here! 

THE SCHOOL HOUSE RESTAURANT 46 McNevin St. Providence Bay, 705 377-4055
Located in a century-old elementary schoolhouse, this restaurant offers elegant dining in a casual setting. We have come here to celebrate Larry’s Birthday!

MUM’S RESTAURANT & BAKERY – Located in downtown Mindemoya 2217 Hwy. 551 (705) 377-4311
casual diner atmosphere and homemade baked goods. We like this place for breakfast!

THE ISLAND PUB Manitoulin Island – located downtown Mindemoya 6089 Hwy. 542 (705) 377-4205
the Island Pub is open daily year round and is a real birgers and fires joint! There is always a game on the tv and your fav beer on tap! Even Saturday night karaoke. Free wireless Internet access is also available to customers.

THE COFFEE SHOP Mindemoya 9310 Hwy.542 (705) 377-6099
The Coffee Shop, located in Mindemoya, offers specialty coffees and teas and some baked goods to best coffee in town and it also has wifi!

GARDEN’S GATE Family Restaurant – located Highway 542 Tehkummah 705 859-2088
This restaurant offers fresh food that is locally produced and prepared with care. My fav is the Portobello mushroom burger. We have been coming here to celebrate Laurie’s birthday for a few years now! It’s always a special dinner!

TWIN BLUFFS Gore Bay (705) 282-2000
Home baked bread, rolls and a variety of desserts daily… this place has really good food!

If you are visiting off-season (between October and May) I suggest calling ahead to make sure the restaurant is open.  Some places shut down for the winter and others stay open but only seat people until 8 or 9pm.   

Bon Appetit! 

Laurie

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