Making the Best of the Season

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Well hello there everyone! Seeing as I’ve finally gotten caught up on all my race reports for the past little while, I guess I can take the time to write up a post on something other than hard physical activity. Let’s start with a little question for everyone. What is the single best thing about winters in the Ottawa / Gatineau Region? Well, I’d say just the simple fact that we have them! Yup, there are so many fun things that we can do even when the temperature drops and the white stuff flies around. With that in mind, I present to you this blog post, which is meant to share a few of the things that Deanna and I have been up to over the past couple months of winter wonderland weather. Between Gatineau Park, weekend guests and the yearly Winterlude, we’ve been outside quite a bit.To see a bunch of pictures from our various winter outings, check out some of the pictures that I’ve posted to flickr. For more of the gory details, just read on my friends!

To put this post in perspective, I should mention that Deanna is not really used to cold and/or snow. It was one of her apprehensive moments when taking the plunge and moving in with me. In order to properly get her ready, I warned her that there would be some really cold days and lots of snow. However, those things just make a nice hot chocolate and/or glass of wine by the fire that much better, right? Also, we kitted her out with a really nice poofy down jacket and heavy mitts before she even moved here. Once she arrived, we also got her into a nice big pair of stomping boots. And for Christmas? Some long johns and merino wool socks of course. Outside of the weather stuff though, I also told her there was tons of fun stuff to do, and it was my personal mission to show her the positive side of winter.

For the most part, this winter has managed to deliver all the right ingredients, without being overly insane. Low snowfall for the first while, mixed with some really cold periods, then warmer periods. Then a nice big dump of snow, and of course, very agreeable weather for Winterlude (well until the final weekend, but that’s okay, we still got out lots). As I was planning to do the Mad Trapper snowshoe races, the Gatineau Loppet, and the Winterlude Tri, I knew that I’d want to get out for skiing, skating, and snowshoeing. Lucky for me, Deanna is always keen to try new things and join me outside.

Since the new year, we’ve managed to get out on the canal several times, as well as a few times on an oval track by Lac Leamy. We’ve also been out skiing many times, especially since Deanna really got into and bought her own full set of gear. As for snowshoeing, we’ve been out a few times as well, both here at Lac Leamy as well as out at the Ark during and after Mad Trapper races. Every time we’ve gone out to do stuff, I caught Deanna smiling many times, and am pretty sure she’ll now admit to not hating winter tooo much!

Besides the normal outings we’ve been enjoying, we even got to both head out and try something pretty new. Deanna had been out once, but me? Never? What am I talking about? Snowboarding! Yup, ActiveSteve tried something new. It was humbling (and frustrating) to pretty much be a complete novice at something. Things were made all the more difficult because the day before, I’d raced the 51km Gatineau Loppet, which had me feeling pretty much like I do after a marathon. Muscle control was lacking, and pain was prevalent. However, I stuck to it for almost 6 hours, including our instruction with a good teacher. I pushed myself to improve and get the right technique, and am pretty sure that with practice (and a couple more outings), I’ll get it! It pervaded my brain so much that for the next 24 hours, I dreamt about it, and kept visualizing what I had been taught. Deanna was equally challenged with this, as the only other time she went, it wasn’t a true ‘mountain’ experience in her mind. Edelweiss was much bigger than she expected. Trust me, we were both equally sore for the next couple days 🙂

Some of the most fun we’ve had was also sharing winter with family and friends. Deanna couldn’t wait to get out and do stuff with her sister when she visited. So on that weekend, we did the canal skating thing, and also went for a nice cross-country ski, where Deanna was already improving to the point that she would give pointers to her sister. It was great. A few weeks later, another couple friends from Toronto came to visit, and once again, we found ourselves skating and skiing. We’d hoped to go for a snowshoe as well, but in the end, it was too much to cram into 2 days!

However, while the last friends, Karen and David, were in town, it was also the start to Winterlude! On arrival, we headed to the Museum of Civilization for the kick-off celebrations. It was amazing. The fireworks were probably the best we’d ever seen! And that included both Canada Day this year AND the fireworks competition. We couldn’t believe how long they went on for, and the great music to accompany. Afterwards, we wandered the snowy venue with hundreds of others. The next day, it was off to check out the Snowflake Kingdom, where we went for a sleighride (before the horses went crazy!), and did the big snow slides. Also, we checked out the amazing Ice Sculptures in progress. The following weekend, we returned to look at them again, under the coloured lights. As always, the work was dazzling and amazing!

A few of the other things that make winter special and memorable are things like walks in the snow and playing in the backyard with Jonah. Also, just generally strolling in the winter wonderland can be pretty special. And what wintery active day is complete without a nice cheese fondue? We’ve had several since the start of the new year. This was made especially nice by the fact that my dad bought us a nice new set as a ‘housewarming’ gift for Christmas. Yum!

So there you have it folks! A little story about the fun of winter. I know others like Kev working on backyard rinks and the like. Although it sounds like a lot of work, I know he also loves that stuff. Bottom line is that I hope you are all making the most of the winter we are lucky enough to have! It isn’t all that bad, right? Tomorrow I’m off to my final winter race of the season, then it’s time to actually start thinking about spring / summer training. Yikes! Bye for now!

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