Several months ago Ford Canada approached me to review their 2017 Ford Explorer. I wanted to see how it handled grid roads, so I took it to a variety of ghost towns, abandoned houses and empty villages around Saskatchewan. I had a lot of fun with the article, and I guess Ford liked it too because a few months later they invited me to go out to the Sunshine Coast to try out a few other vehicles.
There were a few differences between this trip and the one I did around Saskatchewan. The first difference was that this was in the wooded forests of British Columbia and not the flat prairie of Saskatchewan. Instead of having the vehicle for a week, this would be a 2-day trip from Vancouver to the Painted Boat Resort and back again. Also, instead of traveling solo, I'd be travelling with several lifestyle and travel bloggers from across Western Canada – including the 2015 Saskatchewanderer Ashlyn George from The Lost Girl's Guide to Finding the World.
The vehicle we got on the way up to the resort was the same red Ford Explorer I tried out earlier this year. This worked out great for me as I was already very familiar with the vehicle and its quirks. On the way back Ashlyn drove a white 2017 Ford Edge.
When we left Vancouver it was pouring rain, and then the rain turned to sleet. It typically rains in Vancouver in the fall but this was one of those Saskatchewan downpours we haven't had all year. There were sheets of rain, low visibility, and rumbling thunder – something that isn't often heard in Vancouver. Having driven the Explorer previously, I was comfortable with driving in these conditions and even had to laugh when a splash of water caused the vehicle's collision sensors to go off.
After about an hour and a half of driving, we arrived at the ferry and met some of the other bloggers. We swapped Instagram handles, took some selfies and photographed the dynamic coastline as we headed across Horseshoe Bay to Gibsons Landing.
While in Gibsons Landing we stopped at Smitty's Oyster House. Here we learned about the history of the building, shucked some oysters and feasted on what seemed like an endless supply of seafood. We ate oysters, mussels, shrimp, scallops, fresh fruit, bread, cheese and crisped-to-perfection French fries. The meal was delicious and I could have spent the afternoon there had we not had other plans.
After lunch, we visited the Sunshine Coast Olive Oil Company just a few blocks away. As somebody who has limited culinary skills, I didn't understand the appeal of an olive oil store. To me, olive oil is just a healthy option to cook popcorn in. As I entered and saw the rows upon rows of different olive oil, I realized I was terribly mistaken. The staff showed us different olive oils and how to mix them together. Some were strong and tart, others were sweet and smooth, and some were even spicy! They said we could put the olive oil on popcorn, on ice cream, on yogurt and even in carbonated water!
We then hopped back inside the Explorer and headed to our next destination – Roberts Creek, where we would do some light yoga. I've tried yoga before and I strained myself while doing it, so I wasn't too keen on doing it again. But, after all the sea food I ate, I figured it wouldn't hurt to get the body moving a little.
Much like the Sunshine Coast Olive Oil Company, the yoga surprised me. Not only did I not strain myself this time around, but I felt a lot more awake and flexible afterward. I had trouble with some of the positions but I don't think I was the only one. Once we were done, we went for a walk along the pier and breathed in some of that refreshing Pacific Ocean air.
From Roberts Creek, we headed towards the Painted Boat Resort. There are about 30 rooms at the resort and it is open year-round. Rooms vary in size, with some having balconies or basements. Each has a hot tub in their master room, along with two bedrooms, two showers, an all utility kitchen, a dining room, a sitting room and a television room. The rooms were absolutely gorgeous and would be the perfect getaway for newlyweds or a family. Each room varies in price, and prices change according to the season, but they are all somewhere from $250 to $550 a night. While slightly pricy, they could easily accommodate a half dozen people.
After settling in, we met up with award-winning nature photographer Jess Findlay to learn some of his tricks. He showed us some incredible photographs he captured of birds, bears, and foxes. To get some of these photos he had to set up motion-sensitive cameras, live in close proximity to bears for several weeks and even construct makeshift camps inside trees to watch bird nests. Jess has had his photography in museums around the world and he was a great resource to gain photography knowledge from.
We then went out with Jess to take pictures of some of the Ford vehicles. The organizers of the trip set up the vehicles all throughout the resort in a variety of different scenes. It was a really great opportunity to try out some different angles and lighting and check out some of Ford's top-of-the-line products. It also gave me the chance to see the style of how other photographers took their pictures.
After our photography lesson, we had some free time to explore the resort. I went for a walk around the neighborhood to see some of the sights.
When I returned we learned about stargazing by the Royal Astronomical Society of Canada. We were told that amateur astrologers don't need super powerful telescopes to see the stars, but instead just needed a clear night sky. We were then taught about constellations and how to easily identify them. Living in Regina it's fairly easy to get outside of the city and view the stars, but a lot of people on the trip were from Vancouver and rarely saw the stars due to the light pollution. In fact, 80% of the world is unable to see the Milky Way due to that very reason. The lessons the RASC taught were a good recap of what I learned while at the Planetarium at the Manitoba Museum.
The night ended with a massive s'mores bar and star gazing. I spent some time mingling and then called it an early night.
The following morning we ate breakfast, got into different vehicles and headed back to Vancouver. Mid way to the ferry, we would all stop in Davis Bay for one final photoshoot.
After finishing up at Davis Bay, we arrived at the ferry and said our goodbyes.
During the two days I got to drive both the Ford Explorer and the Ford Edge. While I liked the Explorer more for rural landscape, I felt the Edge was better for city driving. It was smaller, more compact and I felt more like I was driving a car and less like I was controlling a Megazord. Both vehicles had sensors on them and both vehicles alerted the driver when they were drifting out of their lane.
One feature the Edge had that I didn't experience in the Explorer was a pre-collision warning. While driving back to my hotel after dropping Ashlyn off at the airport the road ahead of me divided. I saw it and planned to change lanes, but I wasn't reacting fast enough for the vehicle and an alarm went off, warning me of the possible collision. I was far from hitting the meridian but this was a feature I had never seen while driving the Explorer. I imagine both vehicles have it, but the Edge was much more sensitive about it – which isn't a bad thing.
The trip out to the Sunshine Coast was rushed, but it was a much-needed vacation away from the autumn chill and to connect with some like-minded bloggers. The food was incredible, the company was great and the vehicles were gorgeous.
Have you ever been out to the Sunshine Coast? Have you ever driven a Ford Edge? Tell me about it in the comments below!
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And, as always, a big thank you to my sweetheart Jessica Nuttall for proof reading a countless number of my articles. I couldn't do any of this without you. I love you.
As I stood in the courtyard of Fort Henry, I heard screams emanating from within. Fort Henry was constructed to protect the Kingston Royal Dockyard from the invading American forces during the War of 1812. The threat was so real that the capital of Canada – which was then Kingston – was moved to Quebec to protect it. The docks are all that stood between the United States and the St. Lawrence River and both countries were all too familiar with how easily it would turn the tides of battle.
As the screams from inside Fort Henry faded, I turned to the man beside me. He had come with his family. We got talking, trying to calm our nerves as bloodied clowns and undead mimes began wandering out from inside the fort.
I recently had the opportunity to test drive a 2017 Ford Explorer. I grew up learning how to drive a Ford Windstar so I figured an Explorer shouldn't be that much different. Sure, one is an SUV the other is a van, but a Ford's a Ford, right? Well, not exactly. From the moment I sat down, I knew it would be a very different experience from what I was used to.
There were things about the Explorer I liked, and some that I didn't, but it was overall a very nice vehicle. It drove smoothly, turned nicely and handled grid roads very well. I found the brakes to be a little touchy, but by the time the week ended, I mastered how to brake without awkwardly lurching myself forward.
Beyond the learning curve with the brakes, here are my positive and negative experiences with the 2017 Ford Explorer:
I have been told my entire life that Winnipeg was just like Regina, but slightly larger. This gave the impression that there wasn't much to see in Winnipeg and that it, along with Regina, were more-or-less "fly over destinations". Since starting my blog, I've learned Regina is an absolutely incredible city so I imagined Winnipeg was the same. I then proceeded to contact Tourism Winnipeg and Travel Manitoba to find out the true Winnipeg, and ended up going on a multi-day excursion of their city.
Since a lot of my readers are from Regina and they almost all know somebody heading there for the Banjo Bowl in a couple of days, I thought I'd put this list together. There's a lot more to see there than just Investors Group Field, and the city's history is incredibly fascinating, so I hope you enjoy this list of 100 things about "Canada's Gateway to the West".
1. The city of Winnipeg is named after the nearby Lake Winnipeg.