Catalonia Million Dollar Trip!

WOW..I am so blown away by this 6 days in Catalonia...I really took it all in and how my ‘Catalonia Express’ trip will run....and oh my goodness me! You MUST come on this trip! IT COMPLETELY ROCKS! BLEW MY MIND!!!!
A beautiful blend of 3 totally different aspects of this area! All equally amazing! Man...I want to sign up for this Tour! 4 Days Trekking through the Pyrenees Hut to Hut with incredible landscape that is just different than anywhere I have been - 2 Days - COSTA BRAVA (Wild Coast) Cadeques...a Wowser of a seaside village with so much super cool history... that maintains its charm even being so popular! Salvador Dali, famous artist said ‘ I have spent a delightful summer as always, in the perfect and dreamy town of Cadeques....There alongside the Latin Sea, I have been quenched by light and colour.’ From here we dive into our 2 Day Kayaking adventure to Cap de Creaus ...this will BLOW YOUR MIND...then onward for 2 days in the ELECTRIC ...beautiful energy city of Barcelona...Ok I cannot contain myself....speechless...I still h!ave the permanent on my face I had doing the 3 hour Kayak adventure. Thank you PAU!! I will keep as short as I can...I did my trip like I was a participant ..of course but going to seek out unique and cool corners of my itinerary..learning more and feeling the energy of t!he place.!
So Catalonia Express Magic Moments at a Glance....Whoohooos,...heavy climbing legs... captivating sights and stories, traversing peaks, incredible cafes, beautiful people and f!riend meet ups, WHAT ONE CAN DO IN 6 DAYS....ok....MUCH.! PART1 ! From the Airport I picked up my VW Polo (wish it was a T2..but they didn't have any for me!) and blazed down the highway direct to the old quaint village of Ribes de Freser to start my Hut to Hut trek. This all kicked off the next morning at the ‘CHEERS’ hangout -‘ where everybody knows your name’..called BAR GUSI...a big bar where lots can hang out for ‘ Cortados and pre mountain sport CONVERSATION...I met some great friends there Laura and Josep...couple Cafe Solos, omelette (thank you Jordi) and then I was off!! I powered my way to my overnight hut ‘Ulldeter’ through the Vall de Coma de Vaca...I am not usually captivated by flowers but I kept wanting to roll around in these incredible purple flowers... everything looked so VIVID!! ‘Willy’ the owner of Ulldeter Hut..was busy serving his crowd of people!!


I had big Vision for Day 2 - a long way to get to Nuria - a mountain resort I was staying at...but I was going to do it...I had a little bit of a back up though! At Caranca Hut ..I was in France...COOL! The owner was wonderful..making me fresh omelette and packing bread to fuel me for my long trek...But I needed a different kind of fuel to get me through the huge pack of Cows I had to walk through leaving Caranca Hut. I looked at the cattle, then looked at my friend, and then back at the cows (hey I have a good reason to feel that way) ... oh no..i have to walk through there...he says...NO PROBLEM...I asked him to come out with me and watch...with a smile he does. As I self coach myself through the path...i feel good as I am doing legs shaking....then I see him running towards me with his hands hanging low mimicking something big there..yelling ‘TORO...TORO!...You must go around...! ah no..just when I had the guts...! Long day but absolutely ROCKED! Last day powered up to the Puigmal I have always w!anted to get to...caught in a bit of a HAIL thing on the way down....!
PART 2! I always have the Belief I will find a place to stay easy....(like some people do with parking)...and there we go...right to the seaside town of Llanca and then right into Hostal Florida...which is a hidden little gem I found driving my Polo through the narrow white housed streets  OK now onto Cadeques - Look this up everybody...this is a must visit..if you love the ocean, kayak, old stone streets, funky cafes and shops...and yes romantic adventure..this is for you... There is an incredible ENERGY here that I love...Lots of artists come here to CREATE...!

OK it is bye bye coast and onward in my POLO to BARCELONA....! 2 friend Birthday meet ups with Anke and Gemma! Overnighting in the Cool Gothic Quarter, Blazin Beach run, funky cafes, electric energy...just takin it all in...and only 24hrs in BARCA! One of the best 6 days I have ever had...! CATALONIAN EXPRESS complete...cannot wait until the real thing this September!! Who else wants to join the PARTY???!

Find out about this trip and other amazing trips at:

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First Kayak 2014

After the crazy long winter of 2014 followed by the freezing snowy spring, it was such a relief to see open water again on Georgian Bay. Photos from the International Space Station showed the great lakes frozen completely over and Georgian Bay off Lake Huron was no exception. In fact I even wrote an article about running my Kayak route of 12 kilometers on solid ice only a few months ago! I’m certain we are at least 1.5 months behind this year with the spring/summer weather.

The Niagara Escarpment

Viewing the Niagara Escarpment from the kayak

When the Niagara Escarpment is viewed from the vantage point of the kayak it is a uniquely beautiful perspective. It’s impossible to take it all in from land the way you can from the water. The Niagara Escarpment reaches it’s highest point near the town of Collingwood, Ontario, Canada and is designated a world biosphere reserve by the United National Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO). A biosphere reserve is an international designation of recognition from UNESCO (the United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization) for an area in the world which is deemed to demonstrate a “balanced relationship between humans and the biosphere.” By this is meant that collaborative efforts among people in the designated area serve to promote the sustainability of local economies and communities, as well as the conservation of the terrestrial/or coastal ecosystems they are in.

The Nottawasaga Island Lighthouse

The Nottawasaga Island Lighthouse
The Nottawasaga Island Lighthouse

The lighthouse on Nottawasaga Island was built in 1858, the same year our town of Collingwood was incorporated. It was one of 6 built around Georgian Bay of the same design using local limestone. The lantern room at the top was made in France and represented the height of mid 19th century French craftsmanship. In typical French style the drip spouts from the roof gutters are gargoyles with the water pouring from their mouths!

Sadly the lighthouse in Collingwood has fallen into disrepair over the last 15 years. Parts of the outer cladding stone have fallen off and despite a series of steel cables surrounding the structure, the stones are constantly falling off. It is hold that a local lighthouse preservation society can not only purchase the lighthouse from the federal government but restore it to it’s former glory.

The Collingwood Harbour

It’s always interesting to paddle into the harbor in Collingwood right into the ship launch channel. In this channel ships were launched up until 1986 after over 100 years of shipbuilding. Ships as large as 730 feet in length were launched here to join the Great Lakes bulk freighter fleet.

Today you see new condo and town homes built on the site that used to be home to the bustle of shipyard work with cranes and launch ways. A beautiful pedestrian promenade opens the area to pedestrian traffic.

The Big Banana Boat

My 14 foot Necky sea kayak is never going to be the fastest most elegant boat like some of the fiberglass kayaks out there. It does however have some advantages like it’s toughness, and it’s low price. You don’t mind the odd scrape when coming ashore on a gravel beach. It’s blazing yellow so I named it my Big Banana Boat!

Whenever you go out on the great lakes or any other open body of water particularly far from shore it’s important to carry minimum equipment. I’ve seen people 4 km off shore with no lifejacket (PFD) and no other equipment. Any sort of experience teaches that a kayak can be one of the most awkward things to get back into if you capsize. Ejecting from your boat far from shore can be deadly in cold water. Here is what I carry:

  • PFD
  • Paddle Float
  • Throw Rope
  • Bilge Pump
  • iPhone in Otter box for emergency calling and navigation
  • Paddle Lanyard
  • Electrolyte Replacement Drink

Check that your deck rigging is in good order, the rudder rigging if you have one, watertight compartment covers etc. Also tell someone how long you expect to be out and what your route will be. Have a safe, active Kayak experience!

The Big Banana Boat!




Dragon Boat Team, Business Team – one and the same

I've been retired from elite competitive Dragon Boat for almost 2 years now. I knew the time had come so I wasn't upset to leave that world. I was happy to see other women (in my case mostly for the Canadian Senior Women's National Team) and men and women create their own experiences, memories and friendships (based on my experiences with the Outer Harbour DB Club Warriors.) When I was ruminating back over certain experiences for both teams, it struck me that I had been working with my own executive team. Not ever having worked in a corporate framework, I passed these thoughts onto two executive friends of mine, one of whom I paddled with on the Warriors, the other who is in high level sales. My fellow paddler was struck by how accurate a description it was, and my other friend was surprised,knowing I don't work in the corporate world, and wondering how that team connection could be replaced. (I'm not sure it can, other than by finding other teams with the same vision, guidelines and goals). If you look at the process, to join a team you need to go through hiring/testing process, commit to development and growth, both for yourself and the good of the team. The directives are given, staff go off, and work on their projects to better the outcome for the team; results are measured. It is beyond the scope of one person to achieve the results that can be measured when the collective efforts of 19 fellow paddlers, a coach and/or steersperson and a drummer all join forces. As we Yoga types like to say, 'attention follows energy'. This type of attention brings collective, measurable results, and I can say that for recreational teams, elite competitive and National teams. You may have read "The Boys in The Boat" about the 1939 Gold Medalists at the Berlin Olympics. Paddlers don't row (that has to be said) but we all work better together when we have collective 'swing'. Please see my colleague Beth Gitlin's article for further thoughts on this subject:   Or, read 'The Boys In The Boat'. I'm still looking for the paddling version of that 🙂

3 weeks at Paddling Camp – Paddle, Stretch, Eat, Sleep…

I recently had the pleasure of spending 3 weeks in Florida! That was a real delight, after the long and cold winter we had. The true pleasure, however, was getting back on water, teaching Yoga and stretch classes to paddlers and reconnecting with my paddling community.

The camp is put on by Bow Wave Dragon Boat Camp and Space Coast Dragon Boat Camp. This was the 14th year of camp – they have a number of return campers. As you may have guessed, Dragon Boating is the main activity of the camp, (twice a day for 1 – 1 1/2 hrs); this is supplemented with Outrigger Canoeing (OC 2’s in this case), and SUP – Stand Up Paddling. This can mean up to 4 – 6 hours on water, with at least 2 of those hours sitting on the hard seat of a dragon boat. Butt pads aside, if you have never sat on a Dragon boat seat, you don’t know the discomfort that arises – the ‘third sit bone’ I call it.


In addition to paddling, every person in the camp can come to a 45 minute Yoga classes, and a 30 minute stretch classes, everyday. If they didn’t come on the first day, they came on the second. It was such a pleasure for me to be able to share my love of teaching Yoga with my knowledge of paddling; the two activities fit together exceptionally well. The repetitive nature of paddling on one side of a boat makes Yoga a perfect antidote to wound up muscles, sore shoulders and tight lower backs. As well as messed up feet, hips, hands – you name it.

The first day, after our setting our intention for the day and our 3 opening Om’s, I opened my eyes and looked up – there were about a 100 people in the Yoga pavilion! That’s a lot of smart paddlers! After their first paddle, they came back for stretch class; we had a great week after that, trading jokes about what parts hurt the most, and sharing groans and deep breaths on the mat. Breathing is critical, for many reasons: being able to momentarily relax during a strenuous workout piece, or a race; being able to stay focused before or during a race; being able to stay calm, when the world around you goes to ‘crazy world’ as one of our coaches calls it.

The very best part of camp, is the people. This is my third year teaching at camp, and with the number of return visitors, I get to see old friends, and spend some time with them. I get to meet new people, and ease them into the world of Dragon Boating. My coaches, when I paddled competitively, and the coaches at camp are one and the same – former high level club, National, World and even Olympic level athletes. While everyone of them is as down to earth as the next person, these people have inspired and motivated me over the past 8 years, and continue to share their gifts to the campers every year.

Who are the campers? Every walk of life, every age, every ability. Anyone paddles. Everyone paddles. The age range this year was 21 to 80. 80! That’s amazing! Some people were paddling for their first time – first time ever paddling ANYthing. Some are recreational paddlers, some are National and World level athletes. Several Breast Cancer Survivor crews were there. If you want to meet an interesting group of people who are surviving AND thriving, come to camp, and meet my Survivor crew friends. They’ll show you pink hair and a determination that doesn’t quit. And they are pretty good at paddling, singing, having a good laugh and enjoying a glass of wine or a beer when all is done.

The spirit of camp moves me. It provides me with experiences of joy and laughter, and a connection and commitment that is so strong, I’ve yet to see it elsewhere. 20 people in one boat – you would do for them, or your coach, as you would for no other, just to experience the rhythm and power that make that boat ‘glide’, just to work as hard as the people around you.

Camp – I come for the teaching, and the paddling. I come back for the people.


Spring – A delight to the senses.

Wow….it’s been a long winter! A great winter for sure… but definitely long. I guess that’s why I’m really enjoying this spring so much. Sure, it’s not balmy and sunshine everyday but most of the snow is gone and I don’t have to wear my winter coat and snow pants anymore. Yes!

Every day I take my dog out for a walk and like to go to different spots along the Bruce Trail. Last week I found myself in the Kolapore Uplands off Grey Rd. 2 and it was amazing. It was such a treat for the senses.

First there was the visual……instead of seeing white everywhere I was actually seeing bits of green coming up. The leeks have started to grow, along with the trilliums and even fiddleheads. The more I walked the more colours I saw…yellow, white and blue wild flowers growing along the trail. Awesome!

Next was the smell. There is a definite smell to spring…..earthy, organic…..and yes…if you are in the forest sometimes even a skunk smell. Luckily on this particular day I was out – I didn’t come across that smell (and lucky for my dog too).

I found a spot on a rock where I could just sit for a bit and take in even more of the forest. The sound of the forest. It was the coolest. I could hear a woodpecker working away on a tree, a number of other birds calling out to one another. But what struck me most was the sound of the leaves moving. As everything is growing you can actually hear the leaves scrunching as the fiddleheads are trying to pop up through them. Amazing!

Touch is another one of our senses. And if you are like me and you see a rock covered in this beautiful green moss, it’s impossible not to touch it. It feels so soft and gentle – the complete opposite of what it’s usually growing on. Pretty much anywhere you hike around Collingwood you’ll come across some moss….rich in color and soft to the touch.

I ended my hike and went back home feeling totally energized from being outside. And this is where the 5th sense comes in…..taste. My partner Tom had gone out fishing that morning and caught a big trout. That night for dinner he cooked up the fish he caught and it was so delicious.

There’s something about being outside that awakens the senses…..especially in the spring. I highly recommend it!

Starting today May 1st there is a nation wide challenge going on. Try spending at least 30 minutes outside. For more info check out: http://30×

Sea Kayak on Georgian Bay Autumn

It was a gorgeous fall day with smooth glassy water. Sometimes you enjoy the blustery wavy weather, but other times it's nice to enjoy the calm conditions and reflect on life. In 2011 we were enjoying a super long summer like fall. In fact only the sun setting earlier gave any indication that it wasn't an early august day.

I had paddled out to the wreck of the Mary Ward, a 130 foot long steamer that had run aground in November of 1872. Her wooden beams are clearly visible in the 7 feet of water where they came to rest all those years ago.

After that I languished and ate some food on a small shoal about 1 kilometre east of the Mary Ward Shoal and 4km offshore where I was the only human being around for many square kilometers. The afternoon sun was slowly sinking to the west over the Bruce Penninsula.

As I paddled towards shore, the sun began to set and I ended up being able to witness one of the most beautiful epic sunsets I've seen on the bay. The photos I've posted here document this wonderful experience of paddling towards shore in the fading light on perfectly glassy smooth waters. This is living!

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