Archive for March, 2008

Dog Sledding in Haliburton, Ontario


Like I mentioned before the Easter holidays, I went dog sledding in Haliburton, Ontario (about a 2 1/2 – 3 hour drive from Toronto) over the weekend. Man, was it ever fun! I’m so glad my friend, Colleen convinced me to go, because it was such a great experience.

So we left Friday afternoon and headed up to the Delta Pinestone Resort, so it would be less off a rush to head to the trails in the morning. The resort was really nice. I wish I had remembered to bring my swim suit because they had a nice pool and hot tub there that we could’ve had all to ourselves since the resort wasn’t busy. The room was a tad cold when we walked in, but when we finally found the heater it was nice and toasty for the rest of the stay.

Dinner at Haliburton Family RestaurantFor dinner on Friday night we went to this small, local diner called Haliburton Family Restaurant. We were all starving from the long drive up, so Colleen and I ordered about 4 plates of appetizers to split–I now know why they always say never shop when you’re hungry. We tried to forced ourselves to finish all the Buffalo chicken wings, poutine, chicken fingers and nachos. It’s a good think Colleen’s dad and friend were there to help us out with that. :D The food was alright… not as “home made” as I thought it would be, but nonetheless still sufficient. Our waitress was really friendly. A nice ‘country’ atmosphere. Even the walls were lined in dog wallpaper which we found a bit coincidental taking into consideration our dog sledding journey. Back at the hotel we did some channel surfing, falling asleep to the hysterics of Spike’s MXC (Most Extreme Elimination). I think we were really anxious about dog sledding because every time we looked at the clock it seemed really early and time was going by slowly.

Our dog sled teamWe woke up at about 7am. Went down to Heatherwood, the resorts’ restaurant, for a yummy breakfast. I ordered the eggs Benedict, so did Colleen, her dad got oatmeal and his friend got the ‘Canadian Breakfast’. Breakfast was very tasty and filling. We scooted back to our rooms to pack and head out for the 30 minute drive to Winterdance Dog Sledding Tours. We were running a bit late, and to top it off 15 minutes after taking a wrong turn, we realized we were going the wrong way (when the numbers started getting smaller), so we had to turn around and double back. Just to let you know these country roads are very bumpy, and we were driving fairly fast in order to make it to the site on time… Colleen and I should’ve ordered the oatmeal.

We were supposed to get to the tour site by 9am–we got there at 9:37. The people at Winterdance were really cool about it though and said we could still join the training session since it was just getting underway, but we decided to wait another 30 minutes for the 10am run. This worked to our advantage because we got the coolest instructor, Fraser–very knowledgeable and funny–and had him all to ourselves for our small group of four.

Fraser went through quick lesson with the entire group (there were about 12 all together) of us on what to expect from the dogs, the different parts of the sled, the harness, the brakes and most importantly the correct calls: “Hike” is to go, not “mush” as some of you might think, “woah” means to stop or slow downFraser making lunch and we had to call “on by” if the dog was distracted by the side of the trail (e.g. by a squirrel or something) while it was running. The brake took a bit of getting used to… it was a parallel bar with spikes on either end that dug into the snow to slow down the sled, between the thin ski bars that the driver had to balance on with his or her feet.

The dogs were very eager to get running. You should’ve heard the noises and excitement that was in the air when they were getting harnessed in. There were 6 dogs to each sled, one driver and one rider sitting in the sled. I didn’t want to take the chance and drive for the first time, so I let Colleen have the honours. We switched about 1 hour in (after getting some yummy hot chocolate), then other three times to give each of us a break. The feeling of the wind hitting your face as you have these wonderful creatures race down the snowy trials and frozen lakes was incredible. The dogs were so cute, even though it was a tad shocking to see them do #1 and #2 mid-stride (Fraser had nicknamed part of the trail Poo Valley because of incidents like that… lol). Me driving the sled over the lakeOur team consisted of twins Candy and Pumpkin, Ebony (who we had to switch for Badit 1 hour in since he was having a dispute with one of the dogs on Colleen’s dad’s sled) and Red, and Belle and Joker.

After a couple hours we settled down in a section of the woods for some lunch. Fraser started a campfire and boiled some garden vegetable soup and BBQed some hamburgers (always tastes better over an open fire)! He also gave our teams some much deserved and highly anticipated treats (I never seen a dog jump so high or bark so loudly in anticipation. Our bellies full, we settled in for the afternoon portion of our run. Our team was so eager to go… I had a hard time trying to get Candy and Pumpkin (the lead dogs on our team) to slow down to allow enough gap between our sled and Fraser’s sled!

Belle’s cool eyesRacing over the frozen lake was probably the most beautiful part of the trip. The air is so still and quiet. It was such a beautiful day and the trees and cliff sides were amazing to see. We got back to the starting point around 5pm, got off our sleds and gave our team some much needed water and more treats, helped pack up and thanked all the instructors for a wonderful day.

This was such a great experience. Whether you’re a dog person, love the outdoors, or just want to try something new, dog sledding is a great adventure to try!

Someone find me the Fountain of Youth…


Birthday cupcakeSo today’s my birthday. I almost forgot it was today. I feel freakin’ old.

Okay, so 27 isn’t that old, but it’s still a year closer to the 30 milestone and there’s still plenty to do before I take that leap to settle down (you know… travel, maybe go back to school, etc…). I just came back from stuffing my face with buffet at Tucker’s Marketplace (free meal on your birthday!), and this afternoon I was a guest speaker at my former college (Humber), talking to a class about my current job in the multimedia industry. That was really fun, and I hope I helped some of them with some insight on the industry and their decision-making process after their studies are done (Thanks, James!).

Shana Elmsford from Jem and the HologramsNo partying tonight though… I’ll save that for Saturday as I’m planning a 80s theme party to celebrate my old age. Should be cool… picked up karaoke for my Wii just for the occasion. Maybe I should bake a cake and ice it like a Rubik’s cube? Still don’t know what I’m going to wear though. I was thinking the usual leg-warmers, and off-the-shoulder sweat top with tights, but I wanted to be a bit more original. Perhaps Shana Elmsford, the drummer/bass player from Jem and the Holograms? :D

At least I got the day off work today to extend my 3-day Easter weekend. Band to the grind stone tomorrow (will post those dog sled photos then!)

Yes, I’m going dog sledding…


Winterdance Dog Sled Tours - winterdance.comYou read right: This Saturday, Yours Truly is stepping on a sled and is going to be pulled by a bunch of huskeys in the cold snows of Haliburton with Winterdance Dog Sled Tours.

My friend (yes, she’s white) sent me an email a while ago asking if I wanted to go dog sledding. I thought about it for a second: me–an urban, black chick who doesn’t like the cold or snow, and would rather be at home chasing her cat around the living room with a spray water bottle after seeing him scratch the sofa–out on a sled being pulled by dogs… Sure! Why not? I made a resolution to myself this year to be a bit more adventurous and this certainly fits the bill. Especially seeing the look on my co-workers and friends faces when this scenario plays out:

Friend/Aquainence/Co-worker: “So, Monique… what are you up to this weekend?”

Me: “Going dog sledding”

Friend/Aquainence/Co-worker: ——

I wonder if I’ll be the first black woman in Toronto to go dog sledding… much less in Haliburton? :D I’ll be sure to post some photos when I get back… IF I get back. So if you don’t see any new posts published by me within the next week, then you’ll know I’ve got eaten by dogs or that my ‘friend’ abandoned me in the woods.

Sprout: The Online Multimedia Content Creator


SproutI came across this site about a month ago while I was searching for new, simple ways of creating dynamic widgets on the web. I’m glad the Google gods were good to me, because Sprout has made my job soooo much easier! What is Sprout, you ask? Well, basically:

Sprout is a quick and easy way for beginner and pro users to create living content including, websites, banners, videos, music, photos, RSS feeds, calendars and more.

After I initially Googled the Sprout site, I signed up to be on the “private beta” list, and created a small group of media player-type sprouts. Today, Sprout is officially in “open beta”, so if you feel inclined to test your multimedia design prowess, give it a shot.

I also noticed today that Sprout featured two of the sprouts I created: one for Erykah Badu‘s new album (on the homepage) and one for Sheryl Crow‘s latest album (on the “what is sprout” page under “promotional”)! Sprout is definitely a great way to get your ‘widget’ out there and spread virally on the web. A very effective promotional tool.

Of course I do feel a bit sad that a few of my Flash/Actionscript skills are becoming a tad obsolete since now everyone from novice to pro can create amazing sprouts so easily, but who am I to complain? Less work = a more happy me. :D

With the public release of Sprout Beta, there are a lot of cool features to aid in the creation of sprouts: pre-built templates, dozens of components, and additional properties. Kudos to Sprout and their great team for creating a great open-source product that’s accessible to everyone!

Aloha, Hawaii Chair!


I’m not sure how many of you have already seen this wacky infomercial, but this is the first time I’ve checked it out after hearing about it on a forum a couple months ago. I honestly thought there couldn’t be a worse infomercial than Ron Popeil’s Ronco GHL Hair-in-a-Can. It seems I was horibbly mistaken. The Hawaii Chair has taken the throne for Most Stupid Product Seen in an Informercial. For only $293.96 you can have your hips gyrating and ‘lose weight’ while in the comfort of your own home, or while working at the office (I can only imagine the stares from across the cubicle).

In just 20 minutes a day, you can hula yourself to a healthier-looking you!

Here’s a clip from the informercial (lol@the lame jingle!):

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What cracked me up was talk show host Ellen Degeneres testing out the contraption on her show:

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Wow… the Hawaii Chair seems like it could really take the work out of my workday! Seriously… who thinks these things up?!