Coming out of 2020, we thought 2021 might be a little bit better but alas, it was as much of a garbage fire as its predecessor. However, we had almost a year of the virus-that-must-not-benamed under our belts and while a lot of things didn’t change in regards to handling it, there were some developments at least. Despite the ups and downs on this never-ending roller coaster ride, some pretty cool things happened in 2021. Let’s dive in and see what all I got up to while navigating life during a full year of the ‘rona.
To say that 2021 started up in the air is an understatement, to say the least. I was dealing with a toxic living situation which I won’t fully go into details about, but let’s just say it involved people not following federal COVID protocols and making me feel unsafe in what was supposed to be my home. I’m very fortunate to have an incredible support circle and a loving family who took me in no questions asked. Mid-way through the month I was able to fully cut ties with that toxicity and haven’t looked back… though it certainly came with an adjustment. I mean, it’s been a LONG time since I was living at home full time but all is well.
Despite this turbulence, I dabbled a little in YouTube to not just stay sane through lockdown but as a challenge to myself. I haven’t done anything with my channel since, but it was satisfying to know that I can pull something together if the opportunity presented itself. One of those little pats on the back of hey, even if life is crazy and the world is going to shit, you can still be productive in new ways! It was a little boost I needed and I’m proud of myself for it. One of these days I’ll dabble again in video… one of these days.
I have to say though, I’m grateful I was able to ring in the new year with one of my greatest gal pals. Even though we were only temporary roomies and for a short period of time, it was the perfect way to start the year. We had bubbles, a mini dance party, did silly TikTok videos – it was the brilliantly lighthearted and fun start I needed.
As we all remember, the first few months of 2021 were pretty drab. With lots of closures and not much to do, things were pretty quiet for me. I did manage to get a few blog posts written and I stretched my legs with some local hikes though which certainly helped to pass the time!
A highlight of the month for me though was FINALLY finding Terrace Creek Falls in Short Hills Provincial Park. That elusive little waterfall had been driving me batty so it was blissful to get to see her in my favourite season. I personally think she’s the most majestic then too. What can I say? Winter waterfalls are my jam!
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March was pretty much the same as January and February, however things did open up slightly which was a bonus. It also was significantly different in one way – Steph and I put our heads together and as a dynamic duo created Eat Local Ontario! After many discussions of how the restaurant industry had been suffering so much (and still is), we decided to use our skills to lend some support. With ELO, we’re creating a resource for Ontarians and visitors alike to help small businesses gain more exposure so that they can thrive in this uncertain climate.
Be sure to take a look at the guides on our website and to check back regularly as we’re adding new posts as much as we can. We also LOVE hearing about your Ontario foodie adventures and encourage you to share photos, tips and experiences in our Eat Local Ontario Facebook Group! If you have friends who are restaurant owners, foodies, etc, please spread the word. As the saying goes, the more the merrier!
We’ve been having an absolute blast so far with it and we can’t wait to see what 2022 brings for Eat Local Ontario.
Aaand another lockdown stint. Well, at least the weather started to warm up (minus the random blizzard later in the month) and Mama Nature never closes so I took the opportunity to hit up some local trails and embrace spring as much as I could. We’re lucky to have so many blooms here in Niagara so I focused on that and spent my time exploring the region in search of beautiful flowers.
April was honestly one of the hardest months for me. Of all the lockdowns thus far, this one was the hardest as I was back in Niagara when all of my friends are elsewhere. Don’t get me wrong, I love my parents, but I definitely missed the company of my besties and Zoom just wasn’t cutting it anymore. I did a fair amount of crying and binging of Netflix, but sometimes you just have to have those times. If anything, it just makes you appreciate the good days that much more.
Once again, May was a hike, eat, write, repeat sort of month. However, the warm weather meant I could lounge outside while reading and writing which is always a bonus! With Ontario opening up once again, it meant I had a bit more freedom. I took the opportunity to go and do a little visiting which was very much needed. I had a few little trips as I hung out with some friends in both Kitchener and Hamilton. Boy, did it feel good to be social again! Though I have to say, if 2021 reminded me of anything it’s that there is certainly plenty more to see in your own backyard than you realize.
May also signified a sort of light at the end of the tunnel in all this madness as I was able to get in (along with my parents!) for our first vaccine. While the side effects were annoying with random bouts of brain fog, it was a small sigh of relief after a year of this madness.
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Since y’all know me, the hiking certainly didn’t stop in June but I actually got to enjoy some true local adventures. YAHOO! It felt SO good to get back to exploring this beautiful province once again. I even made it to the other side of Toronto as I explored more of Pickering with my partner in crime, Steph. Yeah yeah, it doesn’t sound very exciting but for someone who pretty much avoids driving through Toronto at all costs… it was quite the adventure! Though it made me realize I definitely have to see more of Eastern Ontario. I’m missing out on a ton of great spots!
June is also a special month because I decided to treat myself after the ups and downs 2021 had thrown my way… and my Oru Kayak arrived! It was certainly a little nerve-wracking as it’s the most money I’ve spent on myself in a long time, but I’m still over the moon that I got it. Honestly, it was one of the best decisions I made all year. And just a few weeks after it arrived, I was able to take her on my maiden voyage in a provincial park I hadn’t visited before – Silent Lake! It was the perfect spot to launch and a great trip made possible thanks to my friend Heidi of Organic Road Map.
With great power comes great responsibility… and with a kayak comes the need to save your own ass if you fall in the water! While the timing wasn’t perfect as I got my second vaccine two days before, I still managed to learn how to self-rescue and get back in my Oru thanks to Aaron and the fine folks at Kayak Ontario! I took their level one sea kayaking course and it was yet another fantastic decision. I still have yet to write about it but I cannot stress enough how much more comfortable I am in my kayak after this course! Plus it opened a new world of wonderful people and I’m so lucky to have made some amazing friends through it.
After resting up from the sore arms and odd gulp of Lake Ontario water, Ontario officially reopened and I hit the ground running. With three weeks of back-to-back press trips, it was a whirlwind of adventure and I couldn’t be more excited!
First on the docket was Stratford, a destination that I really hadn’t explored despite living in Waterloo Region on and off for almost a decade. Better late than never, right? This was the perfect way to jump into the mayhem as I enjoyed a girls’ getaway with Steph – our first of the year! It was a blast to enjoy the sunshine, enjoy some retail therapy and indulge in a handful of the city’s amazing restaurants. Stratford is one of Steph’s favourite spots in Ontario so I loved being able to tag along as she played tour guide a bit.
Then a few days later, I was off to Burlington. While I have visited a number of times for a dinner date or to visit the Royal Botanical Gardens, I had never thought of the city as an overnight destination… until now! There is honestly so much to do in the city and it’s the perfect destination for a solo adventure. You have Bronte Creek Provincial Park, beaches, paddling spots, museums, great restaurants and more! It’s a great spot to get away in the GTA without a long drive – meaning more time for fun!
Last but certainly not least, I was thrilled to finally make it to Peterborough and the Kawarthas. This area has been on my list for far too long and it did not disappoint! I spent three nights and four days exploring the area and that wasn’t nearly enough but I enjoyed a wide range of activities! From great paddling spots to delectable eats and plenty of Indigenous knowledge to learn about, it was honestly such a fulfilling adventure. It quickly became one of my favourite spots to visit in Ontario (almost akin to my love for Sault Ste Marie) and I know I’ll find even more great spots next time I visit!
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After all that exploring, I needed some downtime so the first half of August was quiet, but not too quiet! I enjoyed some local paddling adventures with new friends made during my sea kayaking course and exploring the area from a new angle which is ALWAYS fun! Then it was time to hit the road for 2.5 weeks with my first stop in Napanee!
As an avid fan of Avril growing up, it was a blast to explore her hometown and the surrounding area in the Bay of Quinte. Like I mentioned, I don’t make it to the eastern side of Ontario often so this was a lovely treat! I paddled until my heart was content as there are so many great launch spots in the area, sprinkling in some delicious food and fun local attractions in between. The town is small but certainly has a lot to offer and makes for a great home base when exploring the region. Everything is walkable and with the Napanee River running through the middle of town, you’ll want to stretch your legs and enjoy the sights!
But then, the time had finally come – my first trip out of Ontario since the ‘rona-rama began and what better spot to go than La Belle Province! I booked it from Napanee to Tadoussac as I embarked on an adventure two years in the making. The North Shore of the St Lawrence River, known as the Route des Balienes aka the Whale Route, is a majestic 900 kilometre adventure that is nothing short of breathtaking. Popular thanks to a plethora of whale watching opportunities, it has so much more to offer. The amazing hikes, gorgeous waterfalls, Innu culture and small town charms will have you wanting to return again and again.
If you’re a fan of Northern Ontario, you’ll absolutely love the Côte-Nord area and I can’t recommend it enough. I spent just shy of two weeks exploring and it could easily have been stretched to a month or even the entire summer. Take a look at my Whale Route post to get a feel for it and I think you’ll quickly realize just how special this road trip is!
I returned from Quebec just as the Labour Day weekend hit and boy, was I pooped! You don’t realize just how much a trip can take out of you until you get home and allow yourself to decompress. As with July, I took some time to stick close to home but I was certainly busy as I had met a special someone just before I left for Quebec, so we made up for the lost time by hanging out constantly. Then before I knew it, fall was upon us and I was off on my next solo adventure!
The start of the season had me enjoying some quality nature time at two new provincial parks, Mikisew and Restoule. Mikisew may be a small park but it has so much to offer with paddling opportunities, hiking trails, beautiful beaches and even two disc golf courses! Unfortunately soon after I arrived, Mama Nature was raining on my parade a bit as the rest of my visit and my entire time at Restoule was fraught with downpours. Alas, I made the most of it, bundled up and did my best to stay dry. I mean, I still managed to do the famous Fire Tower Trail and I’ll just have to return to check out a few others and get my paddle on!
Afterwards, I made my way to Sault Ste Marie after being away for over a year. As someone who typically tries to get up there at least 2-3 times a year, it made me really appreciate the time that much more. Plus I got to meet a beautiful little gem for the first time which made the trip that much more special. With a sprinkle of paddling and exploring, it was just what my soul needed before heading back home.
I almost forgot – September is also when I officially became a member of the Mediavine club! For the non-bloggers out there, they’re the folks responsible for the ads on this site. Yes, they can be annoying, but they are the reason all the blood, sweat and tears that I’ve put into IBB since I started her have paid off. It can be quite difficult to meet their requirements (especially when travel took a shitter when the ‘rona hit) so it just made this achievement even more special. These ads mean that IBB officially helps sustain me on a regular basis and I had a good solid happy cry when I finally got that acceptance email.
October was spent embracing the autumn vibes with local trips including fall fairs, pumpkin patches, apple picking and more. While we did have a decent amount of rain, we were lucky they were balanced out with sunny days too.
The biggest adventure was a mid-month trip to a quiet little cabin thanks to Sur La Rivière. Located about an hour east of Temiskaming in Quebec, they have camping in the warmer months and two cabins that are winterized. The weather wasn’t the most cooperative but the warm welcome from Kat and her family sure made up for it. If you’re looking for a quiet spot to get away and disconnect from the world, I can’t think of a better place. There are a number of fun adventures to be had from fantastic hiking trails to waterfalls to quaint little towns so if any or all of that sounds up your alley, do yourself a favour and book a getaway!
While a few of the leaves were still holding on, I was already starting to get into the holiday spirit. I mean, it wasn’t entirely my fault as Steph and I went to Unionville to celebrate her birthday and they were already decked out to the nines! Festive light displays and fun photo ops always put a smile on my face. So as you can imagine two bloggers would, we ran around snapping photos like crazy, indulging in plenty of eats and just having a jolly good time!
Later in the month, the two of us reunited with two other blogging pals, Olivia of My Wandering Voyage and Tara over at Travel With TMc after being many moons apart. We treated ourselves to some high tea in Elora – another destination I have explored very little. I know, I know, I lived off and on in Waterloo Region for nearly a decade and I barely made it to Elora in that time. This was such a beautiful day spent in good company exploring this adorable town and then stuffing our faces with bougie eats. It was a pick me up that, I think it’s safe to say, we all needed.
The final chapter of 2021 – and one of my busiest months as it always is. I levelled up to 32 and spent the time around my birthday with some of the most special people in my life. Then I enjoyed a mini-getaway and got to check off a bucket list item as I finally got to stay in a Cabinscape thanks to my partner! I’m sure you’ve heard of these brilliant little cabins but if not, they’re fantastic tiny homes in beautiful locations in eastern Ontario. It was lovely to stay in Calabogie and disconnect from the world for a few days. Plus they had snow which is in short supply here in Niagara so that was huge for me!
A few days upon returning, it was time to get in the festive spirit once again as Steph and I made our way to Orangeville for a holiday-themed adventure. We did a little shopping, hunted for street art, had some great eats and even saw a broadway show! It was a fantastic way to spend a weekend and a girls’ trip is always a good idea.
Then with my Dad’s birthday, Christmas and New Years soon after, the last half of December absolutely flew. I feel like I’m still just catching up from the whirlwind of it all but the last bit of the year was filled with good vibes and lots of laughter, that’s the important part. It’s clear we’re still in the thick of this ‘rona-coaster, but at least I was still able to enjoy quality time with loved ones – and that’s what matters!
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Let’s Get At ‘er, 2022!
So as we know, 2022 really isn’t starting off much different than 2021… but at least we know what we’re getting ourselves into? Kinda? I’m honestly shrugging my shoulders and shaking my head here because there’s really not much else to be done.
However, a new year means new opportunities and new fun to be had so here we go! I’m following in the footsteps of 2021 with no real concrete resolutions. Why? Let’s face it – 2022 is going to be another year of jumping through hoops and rolling with the punches, so I’m not adding to that stress.
On Boxing Day, Steph and I started our own rendition of the 75Hard Challenge. The “hard mode” as we’ll call it, consists of doing the following for 75 days – drink one gallon of water each day, pick a diet and stick to it with no cheat meals, no booze, two workouts for 45 minutes each day with one being outside, read ten pages of a self-help book daily and take a progress picture every day. As you can imagine… we’re not being that strict.
While we’re doing what many would consider a dumbed-down version, we’ll call it 75Bitchin because we’re awesome, we’re doing it together and we’re feeling pretty damn good considering we’re just over 2 weeks in. Each day we’ve been…
- Drinking two litres of water each day
- Exercising for 30-45 minutes each day, preferably outside when possible
- Reading a book of our choice for at least 10 minutes a day
- Meditating for at least 5 minutes each day
- Completing at least a 60 second plank once a day or some sort of core workout equivalent
Yeah yeah, it’s pretty Mickey Mouse compared to the actual 75Hard Challenge but we’re not here to get fit AF. We’re focusing on strengthening our bodies and our minds at a pace that works for us while being each other’s hype woman! It’s honestly been lovely so far, and I’m hoping to add to it as the weeks go on. I’m currently at 95 seconds for my planks and continuing to increase as we go. I might add a few more later to help piggyback off these habits and keep the momentum going, but I’m happy with this list for the time being.
If you haven’t guessed yet, for 2022 I’m aiming for a heavy focus on forming good habits. This is something I’ve been trying to incorporate towards the end of 2021 but I really want to make it a priority for this year. I’m also working on tending to and continuing to strengthen important relationships as well as trying to teach myself to not overthink about the past and let what has happened go. There will certainly be challenges to my sanity and willpower, but I’m a stubborn one so I’m sure I’ll come out of 2022 bigger and better than ever.
To quote Krewella and what I’ve decided is my theme song for the year – I see nothing but green lights. Pitter patter, let’s get at ‘er, 2022!