The last stop on our recent trip up to Toronto and back was near Cleveland to check out Cuyahoga Valley National Park. To do so we took a train ride aboard the Cuyahoga Valley Scenic Railroad. Originally I had hoped to rent bikes to ride through park of the park and use the train to get back to where we started, but it was too rainy during our visit to do so.

All Aboard

All Aboard

We got on the train in Independence, OH at the Rockside Station. From there we enjoyed a 40 minute trip do to Peninsula. Here we did a little Canalway Questing to explore the Towpath Trail and a couple of the old locks that were part of the Ohio & Erie Canal.

Lock 29 Bridge

Lock 29 Bridge

Back on the train we enjoyed another trip back north to where we started. We were able to see some of the park’s wildlife and even spotted a bald eagle. My youngest swears that she saw a bear, but she was the only one on the entire train. We had a nice time exploring the park through the train, but I really wish we could have biked some of the trail too.

Please Remain Seated

Please Remain Seated

Before we left the Clifton Hill area to explore the falls, my family and I stopped into the Rainforest Cafe for lunch. The restaurant was nearly empty during our Friday afternoon visit, so we were seated right away. I’ve been to other locations before, but this was the first time our four and two year old children would experience this restaurant attraction.

Elephants Inside

Elephants Inside

We were seated fairly close to the group of animatronic elephants, which would make all sorts of noise every ten minutes or so. There were also a group of gorillas doing the same thing, as well as a choreographed thunderstorm every half hour. Needless to say, the kids were entertained throughout the meal.

Misty Mountain Chicken Club

Misty Mountain Chicken Club

I ordered the misty mountain chicken club with Cajun chicken, bacon, jalapeño jack cheese, lettuce, and tomato on toasted ciabatta. This comes served with coleslaw and choice of kettle chips or fries ($16.99). Overall the sandwich was good and the side of chips was enough for our entire table.

China Island Chicken Salad

China Island Chicken Salad

My wife had the China island chicken salad with potato sticks, rice noodles, sesame seeds, and Mandarin oranges with a signature dressing ($16.99). This was one of the better salads we’ve had recently and the serving size was plentiful with a full grilled chicken breast on top.

Our kids enjoyed the three amigos mini hot dogs, served with either fries of veggies ($7.99). The price is a little high, but it is inline with the inflated entrée prices that come with the tourist destination and the ambiance of the jungle themed restaurant. Overall it was a solid lunch and paying extra to have the kids entertained throughout the meal is often worth it.

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After spending time exploring the Bruce Peninsula area and Toronto, my family and I made a stop for one night to see Niagara Falls. This was the first time my wife and I had been to the falls since 2007, and this time we would be on the opposite side of the falls.

Grand View

Grand View

Kim & Trey

Kim & Trey

Family Shot

Family Shot

We parked in Clifton Hill and after managing to avoid most of the tourist traps of the area made our way to the Grand Viewing area of Niagara Parks. It is really great how you can see nearly all the falls from one spot on the Canadian side.

American Falls

American Falls

Horseshoe Falls

Horseshoe Falls

We walked along the wide sidewalk along towards the Table Rock Welcome Centre but didn’t make it all the way there. The kids were ready to move on to the Great Wolf Lodge where we would enjoy plenty of kids activities for the rest of the day.


Niagara Falls on Dwellable

White on vacation in Northern Bruce Peninsula, Ontario my family and I stopped in to the Crowsnest Pub in Tobermory for lunch. Many of the other local restaurants in this tourist town were closed on our Monday afternoon visit. Crowsnest was already on my list for its good view of the harbor, but the weather wasn’t the best so we opted to sit inside. We were one of just a handful of occupied tables in the spacious dining room capable of holding a number of summer tourists during the peak season.

Inside

Inside

Crowsnest offers a pub style menu full of sandwich, burger, salad, and fish options. A kids menu is also available though ours decided to share a small plain pizza ($12.49) which was plenty for their little stomachs with a couple of slices left to take home.

Buffalo Chicken Sandwich

Buffalo Chicken Sandwich

I went with the buffalo chicken sandwich topped with a choice of eight sauces along with lettuce, tomato, onion, and pickle ($11.99). This was served with a choice of fries of homemade potato chips. The medium sauce was not very spicy, I should have went with a more bold selection. That said the sandwich was coated well with sauce and tasted great. The chips were also good, though a touch on the burnt side.

Whitefish & Chips

Whitefish & Chips

My wife went with the local beer battered whitefish and chips, served with coleslaw, tartar sauce, and lemon ($12.99). I did not try the fish though my wife had positive things to say about it. Typically she only eats fish when dining near a body of water, and this did not disappoint.

The beer selection is mostly dominated by Sapporo owned Sleeman Brewery, none of which are particularly interesting. During our visit the also had Okanagan Spring Pale Ale from British Columia, which was a better choice overall. Unibroue Blanche De Chambly is the best choice.

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Before leaving the Bruce Peninsula area, we checked out of our yurt and then made one final stop in Tobermory to explore the Fathom Five National Marine Park. We took a glass bottom boat tour through Bruce Anchor Cruises on the Tobermory Frontier to Flowerpot Island.

This cruise first took us past a couple of the 22 total shipwrecks that are within the park border. From there we headed out to our destination of Flowerpot Island where we paid $9 extra to get off and explore, which was well worth the added cost. It wasn’t a far hike out to the namesake flowerpot rock formations where we were able to sit and have a picnic lunch. We also took some time to explore one of the many caves on the island, before it was time to head back to the dock and catch our ride back to Tobermory.

We also stopped at the Visitor Centre on our way out-of-town. Unfortunately it was closed during our visit, but we were still able to climb the steps of the lookout tower for an overview of the entire Georgian Bay area.


Tobermory on Dwellable

With a few days to spare before we had to be in Toronto, my family and I decided to spend a couple of nights camping in Bruce Peninsula National Park. This would not be your average camping trip, instead we stepped it up and notch and tried out glamping. Bruce Peninsula has ten yurts that available for rent inside the park near Cyprus Lake. While we still didn’t have running water inside the yurt (running water was available at the bathhouse), I still think I may have ruined my wife from ever sleeping in a tent again.

We had a pretty good amount of rain the first day in the park, but we still managed to hike out to the Grotto and Indian Head Cove along the Georgian Bay Trail and parts of the Bruce Trail. The cliffs and caves of the rugged Georgian Bay coast were impressive, as was the crystal clear water. The rain cleared by evening and we had a beautiful sunset to enjoy while surrounding the fire pit and roasting marshmallows. It was nice to nearly completely disconnected from the outside world for a couple of days.


Bruce Peninsula on Dwellable

After a great time at the African Lion Safari near Cambridge, my family and I started our drive north towards the Bruce Peninsula. We didn’t make it far before it was time to stop for dinner. With no dinner plans scheduled we spotted Crabby Joe’s Tap & Grill in Guelph along our route and stopped in for a drink and a bite to eat.

Inside

Inside

Crabby Joe’s is an Ontario chain of about three dozen restaurants, started in 1996 and expanding each year. We arrived right at 6pm and found a relatively quiet restaurant, though there were already a few tables full of kids, taking care of their “Kids Eat Free” special on Sundays.

Rickard's Red

Rickard’s Red

The draft list was full of a few names I’ve never heard of, but looking back it seems that most were likely brands of Molson Coors. I tried the Rickard’s Red, while my wife went with the Rickard’s White. Neither were anything special, though I’m reading that when the Red was introduced in 1984 it was a big departure from the lager dominated country.

Peppercorn Chicken BLT

Peppercorn Chicken BLT

For dinner I chose the peppercorn chicken BLT served on a toasted Asiago bun and topped with BBQ ranch ($11.99). I upgraded the standard side of fries to the classic poutine, because Canada ($1.29). The poutine portion was enough to share with my entire family, so keep that in mind and you might just one to do one upgrade. Both the poutine and sandwich were fairly good, and I would recommend both.

Edgy Veggie Burger

Edgy Veggie Burger

My wife had the edgy veggie burger topped with goat cheese, roasted red peppers, tomatoes, red onions, arugula, garlic aioli, and a sweet balsamic glaze ($11.99). I didn’t try any of her sandwich but she seemed to enjoy it. Many of her included side of fries ended up dipped into the extra gravy from my plate.

Our service was great despite the young woman telling us that we would be her first unassisted table. The food was good, and the kids ate for free ($6.49 value). We would definitely return, especially on a Sunday.

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We made a few stops on our way up to Toronto a few weeks back. The first was a visit to the African Lion Safari outside of Hamilton, Ontario and just an hour or so outside of central Toronto. Last year my family and I went through northern Ohio’s African Safari Wildlife Park, and this one is similar to that but even wilder. In addition to the deer, bison, bongo, zebra, and giraffes, the African Lion Safari’s drive through game reserves also feature African lions, cheetahs, and baboons! There is nothing between your car and any of these animals.

Feeding of the animals is not allowed, though one of the cars in front of us was feeding the baboon bananas causing the group to climb all over our cars. This was definitely the highlight of the drive through safari. Though it was also really cool to see the African lions up close and without a cage blocking the view.

After exploring the game reserves we spent even more time taking in the elephant round-up show, looking at the bird aviaries, petting the goats in the petting zoo, and playing in both the jungle playground and Misumu Bay wet play area. The elephant show featured Asian elephants showing their strength, playing sports, and even making a painting that would later be for sale. As much fun as my kids had seeing the animals, they had as much fun in the play areas, even the wet play when the temperature couldn’t have been more than 65 degrees.

We came for the drive through safari but enjoyed the other aspects of the park just as much. In the end we stayed for hours longer than I initially thought we would. With so much to do it is easy to spend the entire day there.


Kitchener Waterloo on Dwellable

This past weekend was the fourth annual Bunbury Music Festival. I missed the first year completely due to prior commitments, but I’ve attended at least one day in every year since. Aside from some issues on the first day this year, this year’s fest was probably my favorite to date.

Kid Runner on Sawyer Point Stage

Kid Runner on Sawyer Point Stage

First my favorite addition for this year was the Sawyer Point Stage, which was added adjacent to the permanent Sawyer Point Pavilion Stage. However I still feel that this should become the main stage, over the currently used Yeatman’s Cove Stage. The reason is simple and I’ve said it before, the Sawyer Point area seems much more conducive to large crowds than Yeatman’s Cove. A large video screen occupied the back of the sound booth for the main stage, but since the space is too narrow views of the stage from the back of the crowd are nearly impossible.

Walk The Moon on Yeatman's Cove Stage at Bunbury Music Festival

Walk The Moon on Yeatman’s Cove Stage

The lineup for this year was also very good. With The Avett Brothers, Old Crow Medicine Show, and The Decemberists all playing on the second day, I knew this would be hard to top. But I really enjoyed seeing sets from Father John Misty, Bleachers, and Walk The Moon on the first day. I wasn’t overly thrilled with Sunday’s lineup, but I was still able to catch a great performance from Shakey Graves before leaving early due to the heat.

The Devil Makes Three  on Sawyer Point Stage

The Devil Makes Three on Sawyer Point Stage

As I mentioned earlier there were definitely some issues on the first day, all of which were due to the large attendance, which lead to lines for nearly everything. Some friends waited an hour and a half just to get through the main gate. While I didn’t face much of a wait there, our group waited over an hour and half for pizza! For the second and third day, additional entry gates were opened and I walked right through each day. Water lines were also terrible and something that needs to be addressed for next year, though it was nice they changed the policy for the second and third days to allow sealed water bottles to be brought into the festival.

The Decemberists on Sawyer Point Stage

The Decemberists on Sawyer Point Stage

I’ll be honest and say that the issues on Friday were enough for me to consider making this my last Bunbury, but I was happy to see the organizers make some changes to try to fix the mistakes made. I’ve heard rumors of the festival possibly moving up I-71 to remote locations between Cincinnati and Columbus, which would offer more space and room for camping. But I really hope that this is not the case. I enjoy the festival where it is, even if that means there are ongoing issues to be worked through.

On our second day visiting Toronto, my family and I found ourselves at the Firkin On Yonge for dinner. The Firkin Pubs chain operates roughly 30 restaurants throughout Ontario. This location is just south of the Yonge-Dundas Square, in the heart of the city.

Inside

Inside

The Firkin On Yonge offers two levels of bars and dining sections. A decent selection on Canadian craft beer is available on tap. I had the Mad & Noisy Brewing Hops & Bolts IPL, while my wife enjoyed the Hop City Brewing Barking Squirrel.

The London Porker

The London Porker

The menu is a solid mix of British style pub food along with a selection of Indian influenced dishes. I had the London porker sandwich with pulled pork, bacon, apple coleslaw, and Keen’s English mustard on brioche bun and a side of fries ($14). I could have used a little more pulled pork on the sandwich, but what I did have was pretty good.

My wife had the chicken curry ($11 small/$16 large), a very solid curry dish over basmati rice, which was a better choice overall. A kids menu is also offered, making a good place to take the whole family.

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