Hello, my friends! Welcome to the first of a few recaps about my adventures in Canada this week! I was lucky enough to be invited to explore the Outaouais (pronounced ooo-ta-way) region of Québec by the Outaouais and Québec tourism bureaus (thank you to them for covering expenses for this trip!), so on Monday morning I flew off to Canada to begin my adventure. Did you guys know that it’s only a 1.5 hour flight from DC to Ottawa? Yeah, me neither. I was expecting Canada to be really far away!
There were 5 of us on the trip – two Americans and three Canadians, plus one representative each from both the Outaouais and Québec tourism bureaus. It was a really fun group! On the American front was myself and my friend Julie, who writes the blog Peanut Butter Fingers. It was so good to see her again – she’s become one of my good blogger buddies over the past year so we were really excited to be going on a trip together! The Canadians on the trip, who I didn’t know before this week, are all freelance travel writers and were all awesome, too. In the middle in the photo above is Jenn, aka Travellin’ Lady; next to her in the red is Kate, who writes for Eat Drink Travel; on the far right is Candice, whose blog is called Candice Does the World. I loved spending the week with them! We’re all hoping we end up on a trip together again sometime. 🙂
The trip we went on was an adrenaline themed press trip, which was right up my alley: lots of adventures! First up on Monday was a ropes course and zip lining at Arbraska Lafleche Cave and Aerial Parks.
The area was beautiful – when we arrived, we enjoyed a quick takeout lunch courtesy of Marius Provence with this gorgeous view.
Lunch was really tasty, too – I had the Nicoise Salad and loved that it came in a big cup. How fun! We also enjoyed some unpictured croissants.
After lunch, it was time for our adventure! The guides got us all suited up:
And then we hiked to the start of the adventure, which was a tree-top challenge ropes course!
I LOVED this part of the experience – I’d never done anything like it. It was also really cool that we were totally in control of ourselves – they taught us how to set ourselves up on the lines and then let us do it on our own in the course.
Soon, we arrived at the zip lines! It was so beautiful up in the trees – the fall colors were just starting to come in. I felt like I time warped a month!
Our guide’s nickname was “Spider,” as you can see on his helmet below. 🙂 He was hilarious.
My favorite zip line was this huge long one over the lake.
I actually ended up getting stuck in the middle because I raced off the platform and bounced a bunch on the way out, which slowed me down – oops! It was pretty sweet to get stuck over such a gorgeous area, though! And Spider came and saved me quickly. 🙂
After zip lining, we headed into the largest natural cave in the Canadian Shield.
I didn’t get many photos since obviously it was dark, but it was really cool to see and learn more about the history of caving!
At one point we turned off our headlamps and all got quiet – it was CRAZY how dark it was – you couldn’t even see your hand waving right in front of your face! So quiet, too. It was really neat.
Thank you to the team at Arbraska Lafleche for the great adventure!
After zip lining and caving, we headed to our hotel for the evening: the beautiful Wakefield Mill Inn & Spa.
This place was wonderful – rustic and charming, with easy access to outdoor adventure in nearby Gatineau Park. The type of place that Matt and I love to stay at! The mill, originally built in 1838, now has 42 guest rooms, a fine dining room, a full treatment spa, outdoor hot tubs and swimming pool, and a cozy fireplace lounge.
This is the view in the backyard. Awesome, right?
After getting a tour of the property and cleaning up, we were treated to dinner in The Penstock, which is the Wakefield Mill’s restaurant.
This was one of my favorite meals of the whole trip – the food was incredible and very creative, too, with really unique flavor combinations. We received a 6 course “discovery” tasting menu with wine pairings and nearly every course blew me away. It was called discovery because you didn’t know what you’d get until it came out! (They asked for any allergies/dietary restrictions before we started.)
Some of the highlights:
- Pineapple and lamb tartar with honey and white chocolate kale salad, apple & sumac syrup, and pine jelly:
- Swordfish sashimi and tempura with fennel and lychee salad and an apple, celery & fennel sorbet (this was EPIC – who would’ve thought to mix those ingredients into a sorbet?!):
- Grilled sheep’s cheese with banana cream, lavender syrup, and onion oil (sounds weird but it was all very subtle and good together!):
- Beef medallions with mushrooms, cabbage, and purple potatoes sautéed in truffle oil:
Dessert was nice and light – fresh figs serve on a clove crumble with white chocolate and a black cherry compote. It was topped with fresh cracked pepper – how unique!
The portions were all really small and dinner took awhile so I actually left feeling very satisfied – not stuffed or over full at all. It also helped that it was the day after my 19 mile training run so I was hungrier than usual all day! 😉 What an amazing meal – I would come back to the mill for this restaurant alone! Breakfast the next morning was amazing too, although I didn’t get any pictures.
Stay tuned – more to come!
Have you ever been zip lining or done a ropes course?
What’s the most amazing restaurant you’ve ever been to?