The Collingwood Beer Scene

Scott visitis Collingwood Ontario to try out some local brews.

10 Tips For Your First Portage Trip

Sam and Ed went on a portaging trip this summer and leave you with some excellent tips and advice to survive your own trip.

Checking out Toronto from the Edge with Ford Canada

Ford Canada invited Scott out to experience Toronto in a truly unique way.

5 Tips to a Successful Homebrew

Scott and Sam; our resident home brewers, offer their top 5 pieces of advice to get on your way with homebrewing.

Packing for a Weekend Canoe/Camping Trip

Ed shows off one of the many ways you can pack up your gear for a weekend getaway into the wild.

Date Night: Athens

Chris takes his lady for a night out on the town in the historic city of Athens where they enjoy some sight-seeing, local dishes and dancing!

Simple Ways to Outfit a Canoe

Scott offers up 5 simple ways to outfit a canoe for comfort and usuability.

The 19th Hole: Varadero Golf Club

A continuation of the 19th hole series; Ed takes in a round on a sweltering day at the beautiful Varadero Golf Club.

Monday, 20 June 2016

Surviving Road Trips: Music

It's summer time which means long drives to the beach, cottage, camping or maybe even cross country! Either way there is always a common factor when driving anywhere with multiple people and that is trying to please each passengers musical taste(s).

Conventional rules say that the front seat passenger is the one who controls the musical flow, but how fair is that when the passenger is the drivers significant other? So to avoid ruining a beautiful drive and possibly some friendships here are some quick tips to please everyone musically.

1. Find a generic station on the radio

Seems easy enough, just work the radio dial and scope out a station that is playing top hits of decades, genres or whatever your group is mostly into. The major drawbacks of this are that stations come and go as you drive, you will need to find a new station once every few hours as you exit cities, towns and cross borders. Oh, and you will have to listen to non-stop commercials! While not ideal, using the radio is still a valid option for some background music.

Radio Dial
Sometimes you gotta go old school and just listen to the radio.

2. Share music time

Everyone has music on their devices, why not come up with a schedule so that everyone gets a turn listening to their own? Dedicate an hour or two to each passenger and pony up the auxiliary cord, Bluetooth signal, USB cable, or if you still have it (which is bad ass if you do) the cassette to 3.5mm adapter. The downside here is that you as a single person will have to listen to up to four other passengers musical preferences. And that can go either way depending on your friend’s taste in music. Again this isn’t ideal, but a better option than the radio.

3. Existing Playlists 

As an avid user of Spotify, I have to say that playlists are life savers when you don’t want to over think what to listen to. Simply pick a loose genre (example 80’s-90’s-00’s hits, Nu-Metal, Pop Punk, Country Hits) and search it up on Spotify. Magically, about 30 playlists pop up that you can now enjoy singing all the hits of. This works with many other genres, bands etc and is a pretty good road trip music solution. However you still have to swap playlists to cater to each passengers tastes. But at least it keeps the obscure tracks that no one has heard away. Downsides are streaming services use data, and we all know data is like gold right now! Tip: Consult with your buds beforehand and download a few Spotify playlists for offline play if you are a premium user. 

4. Creating Playlists

You can take this one step further and actually create your own playlist. You can do this on your computer, phone or through apps like Spotify. If you have extended time before your trip you could email all the other passengers and get them to send you the titles of 30 songs they’d love to hear. Compile them all up into a nice playlist, hit shuffle and enjoy musical freedom. This should cover everyone’s tastes and keep the music balanced (unless your shuffle is as stupid as mine and plays the same band 3 times in a row…c’mon shuffle get it together).

Spotify Logo
Spotify Logo, great streaming service for music.

5. Battle Royale Solution

Lastly you could of course have an epic road trip battle for dominance of the radio. The winner of whatever challenge you create takes full command of the tunes. Last one to need a bathroom break, rock paper scissors, elimination license plate games or pre-drive feats of strength? A true champion of the road deserves the glory of broadcasting the songs of their people, no? This solution isn't for the faint of heart (or ears) but still pretty awesome... if you win.

Regardless of which musical option you choose for your next road trip, just have fun and make the best of whatever may be playing. Remember that the drive and the music is just a means to get to your end destination!

Drive safe folks!

Tuesday, 14 June 2016

Escape and Discover: Thunder Bay Edition

I had been expecting a package from Ford Canada the other day; they were being weirdly secretive about it. I knew it had something to do with the new 2017 Ford Escape. When it arrived I tore into it and found a duffle bag emblazoned with the words, "Escape & Discover," along with a postcard telling me to "prepare for the ultimate adventure and an unforgettable night away." That and I was part of "Team Yellow," whatever that meant. I read it three times, trying to discern what this ultimate adventure was all about, but the only instruction was to be ready and waiting for 7 a.m. Then my mind did what it does best when faced with the unknown: it plays games. Where are we going? How are we getting there? What other team colours are there? Is it going to be a scavenger hunt, or perhaps some type of Hunger Games-style affair?

In truth, if I gave myself a rating on the adventurous scale, I wouldn't peg myself at the ultimate adventure end of the spectrum; I'm maybe... a medium adventure type guy. After dwelling on it for awhile I calmed down and became okay with the mystery of it all. All I had to do was get to sleep and find out in the morning.

Morning came and I was whisked away in the back seat of a black, unmarked car. I buckled in and the driver looked back and said, "Heading to Thorncrest Ford?" I give him a straight faced look and said, "Am I?" The driver looked confused and said, "That's what this booking says." I just smiled and replied, "Thorncrest Ford it is my good man."

When we arrived I was greeted by smiles and food. I mingled with the other people and met my teammates. Keeping with the mystery of the event, there was a huge curtain with the Ford symbol on it, and what appeared to be the shadow of an SUV conspicuously shining through. Maybe not such a mystery after all, so we thought. But after a quick welcome they pulled the curtain, and much to the shock of myself and the 11 other guests, there was no Ford Escape, just a table with four sets of three tickets. I grabbed my Team Yellow tickets and brought them back to the group, where we opened them together and found...

I was on my way to Thunder Bay!
So off we went like we were the McCallisters and we had slept in again! Arriving at Billy Bishop Airport on the Toronto Island, I was so happy that I thought I would grab an escalator selfie.

Our smooth flight featured an unexpected treat, an aerial view of Sleeping Giant Provincial Park! You may ask why is it called Sleeping Giant... well that is why they invented Google (that and to make heaps of money). Google it.

You might be able to tell why its called Sleeping Giant now.
We were picked up by Matt and Malcolm who had us cruising in style in the new Ford Escape we had been waiting to see. Ours was a beautiful pearl white with blacked out rims, the new Sync3 entertainment system and a sunroof that starts at the front seat and ends all the way at the back seat! I don't even know what you call that type of sunroof, but I do know that it is awesome.

Nice Ride eh?
Team Yellow's first stop was lunch at a waterfront restaurant called The Bight; a delicious meal with a superior view. Speaking of superior views, we snapped a couple of shots of Sleeping Giant from shore. I tried to point at it in a selfie and came close... and that calls for a "that's what she said."

Not even close to the giant.
After seeing our first bit of wildlife (groundhog), we spotted a fox. Well in Canada he is THE Fox. I was so excited to see the Terry Fox memorial but when we hopped out of the Escape I wasn't expecting the somber, yet enchantingly appropriate music that we heard. A gentleman was practicing his bagpipes at the memorial, and it made our experience a little more emotional and definitely a lot more memorable.

Bagpipes, the Canadian flag and Terry Fox. I think I've got some dirt my eye. Ya, dirt, that's it.
Then it was road trip time. Turn down the windows and turn up the music. (Aside: Do we technically turn down windows anymore? I guess not. Anyhow, back to my #EscapeAndDiscover Adventure, and yes, you should check that hashtag out). We were headed to Kakabeka Falls. If you have seen them before you know exactly what I mean when I say, nature is freakin' beautiful.

FYI, if you are planning to have a stop at the falls on your journey be prepared to pay a small parking fee of $3/hour, but it is worth every penny.

After we saw the falls we stopped into the Kakabeka Falls gift shop. We had a great conversation with the shop owner about how much he loves free advertising from the local bingo that runs six months of the year, so this shout out is for you gift shop guy!

Our next stop had us at the bottom of Mount Mckay looking way way up to the summit. You can get up to the summit somehow, but we never really figured it out. Mount Mckay is the highest, most northern and best known of the Nor'Wester Mountains.

That was our last stop of the day. We checked into the local Holiday Inn Express and had a small rest before dinner. We dined at a popular wine bar and restaurant called Caribou. I had a pairing of wood fired pizza and a Lake of the Woods beer named Firehouse Amber. C'est Magnifique. When we walked out to meet our driver we were blinded by sunlight, even though it was after 9 p.m.!

Lake of the Woods Firehouse Amber
The next morning I was feeling recharged, despite our whirlwind of a Saturday. We were taken to the restaurant Hoito, a Thunder Bay staple known for their Finnish pancakes. I had mine with bacon and, oh baby, was it good. If you go to Thunder Bay, it's a must.

Hoito has been in business for almost 100 years
After breakfast we were on our way to Sleeping Giant Provincial Park. We finished our trip off testing out the impressive handling of our Ford Escape while winding through pristine Canadian wilderness, occasionally dodging the odd deer or stray rock. We found ourselves at the Silver Islet store that sits on the site of a former silver mining operation from the 1800s. 

Shhhhh. Don't wake the giant.
Silver Islets Store
Our last stop before the airport was at the Thunder Bay lookout right smackdab in the middle of Sleeping Giant. A perfect view for saying goodbye to Thunder Bay.

That's a wrap folks. Our #EscapeAndDiscover adventure ended on a very high note. It was nice to be in a place where cell reception was so bad but the nature was so good. It reminded me that we live in such a huge beautiful province. A big thanks to Ford Canada for including me in this awesome adventure.

Shout out to Team Yellow!!

Tuesday, 7 June 2016

The Real Man Travels 2016 Father's Day Gift Guide

The Real Man Travels 2016 Father's Day Gift Guide.

We here at Real Man Travels consider ourselves experts of sorts when it comes to buying gifts for Dads. With 60% of our staff being dads, and 100% of us having fathers you could say we have the required experience to make such a bold claim. Without further delay here is this years gift guide:

Gift Ideas from Ed

1. BBQ Light 

If your dad is anything like mine, then drinking in the sunlight trumps cooking in the sunlight. For the dad who doesn’t spark the grill until 8:30-9:00pm a BBQ light is the solution to night time cooking. These come in a variety of styles, the most common being an attachment to the BBQ’s handle. You can pick one up for as little as $10, just remember you get what you pay for!

Grill anytime with Weber BBQ light

2. Mounted Beer Opener 

You could take the easy route and buy a pre-made mounted beer opener for your dad. Or you could finally show off all the skills your dad taught you throughout the years by making him a custom one. Look around the interwebs for any opener that suits your needs and get out into the workshop to make a custom mount that your dad will not only be proud of, but use every day! My tips for this gift is to have a cap catcher on it and tie in some elements that speaks to your Dad, favourite sports team, favourite brand of beer, etc. Bonus if you end up making one that your Mom doesn’t mind having on the wall.

Mounted beer opener available on Etsy.

3. Secrid Wallet 

It is time for your old man to lose the bulky wallet system he currently has (he probably still has a Blockbuster membership card in there). Bring your old man into the present with Secrid’s line of sleek and sexy wallets. I’ve personally been using the Slimwallet for almost a year now and people always look at me when I press the button to slide my cards out like I have some space age contraption. The main compartment can hold 5-6 cards and it has slots for an additional 6. There is also a plastic fold for any cash your Dad may need to carry. The best part is the amount of pocket space that is freed up, and how much more comfortable sitting for long periods has become.

Secrid Slimwallet in Brown

Gift Ideas from Sam

1. Gillette Shave Club 

About a year ago I used a gift guide to recommend dollar shave club, So what's changed you ask? Up until recently if you wanted a razor delivered to your door you were restricted to Dollar Shave Club. Finally an entry from a major name in men's grooming is entering the subscription razor market, and I am in favour. I would describe myself as someone with sensitive skin, so other than finding a barber to offer a straight shave, the Gillette fusion was the pinnacle for me. Quite frankly my first shave was with a Mach 3, and it still might be the best shave on the market. Gillette Shave Club options are available on a subscription basis, as well as the most recent addition, the fusion ProShield, offering lubrication before and after the blades. for as little as $16.99 every 5 months (Gillette's cartridge may last up to one month each depending on your shave schedule) you can send your "Old Man" the best a man can get.

Gillette Shave Club package, the best a man can get.

2. Solar Powered Bluetooth Speaker

Bluetooth Speakers have been all the rage for over a year now. With every passing month they have been made smaller, longer lasting, more colourful, more powerful and even waterproof . Well now there's even solar for the dad who enjoys the outdoors. Now he can enjoy enjoy soaking up the rays while pumping out the kind of music that embarrasses you in front of your friends.
Eton solar powered Bluetooth speaker

3. Beer and Meat 

Sometimes it's the simple things that bring us the most joy. Plus, what dad doesn't enjoy grilling steaks while sipping back a cold one. Vegans and vegetarians, that's who. Alright, so there's a few dad's this won't work for, but if your dad is the carnivorous type, pick up some T-bones, or tenderloins, and pair it with a 6 pack of his favourite beer, and you'll be good to go.


Gift ideas from Chris

1. Muskoka Brewery's SummerWeiss

Is your dad a Weiss man? If so then he will love this unfiltered nectar of the gods.  If you are unsure of his taste get him a beer mixer pack, you're bound to get one or two that he will like

Muskoka Brewery Summerweiss

2. A Super Sweet Hawaiian shirt

If your dad has a good sense of humour and a terrible sense for fashion, BOOM! Perfect gift. Just promise me one thing, make sure that you get him a shirt that fits him properly. Everyone will at least thank you in advance for that.

A Hawaiin Shirt...actually looks good!

3. Matching Kid and Dad outfits

I may be a huge sucker for cuteness but I love matching my kids sometimes. Sometimes it feels like we are Luke and our little one is Yoda on our back. Or we are Arnold and he or she is Danny Devito. Or in this instance we are Maverick with your partner goose. Totes Adorbs.

Matching Dad and kids clothes

Gift Ideas from Scott

1. Power washer 

Dads like to keep their stuff clean. Cars, patio, siding, lawn mower – Dads know they all look, feel and function better when well maintained. Don’t worry, a power washer won’t be looked upon as a judgement of the current level of maintained cleanliness, or as an implication of work expected; it will be valued as a secret acknowledgement, a carefully directed wink and gun if you will, of Dad’s manly value of steadfast meticulousness.

Power wash all the things!

2. Undershirts

Dads have a lot on the go. They also tend to hate shopping for anything that doesn’t have 250+ horsepower or 80,000+ BTUs. Thus, Dads tend to wear underwear past its best before date. Consider picking up some high quality small clothes for the man who tackles the big stuff with ease.

If you must walk around the house with no pants on Dad, please look good doing it!

3. SoundTouch® 520 home cinema system from Bose 

For those who really want to make Dad happy, consider automating his life with a sweet home entertainment system from Bose. Give Dad the gift of controlling his music from anywhere in the house, including the backyard and garage. I’m not saying you’re going to win kid-of-the-year for this, but, really, you probably will.

Loud noises thanks to Bose.

Monday, 6 June 2016

Gillette's Go Ask Dad Campaign

Alright Gillette, you got us. No tears... nope, none at all, just a bunch of stuff in our eyes... yeah that is it. 

Check out this video and keep a handkerchief at the ready, err, I mean a grease covered rag... purely precautionary. 

Nice job Gillette. Happy Father's Day all. Watch for our upcoming Father's Day gift guide.

Friday, 15 April 2016

The Outer Banks, North Carolina: In Pictures

Last year, my girlfriend, her sisters, brother and I all packed into a Ford Explorer and drove for 15 hours from Toronto, Ontario to The Outer Banks of North Carolina. It was probably the most relaxing vacation I've had in quite a while. Probably because instead of partying I made this trip all about unwinding from the day to day grind.

We would spend all day on the beach reading, cooling off in the water on our tubes or hunt down some of the best sea shells I've ever seen. We'd spend the evening watching sunsets, having some hearty meals and partaking in a few adult beverages by the pool or in the hot tub. We'd cap everything off with a few competitive games on the billiard table and then hit the hay to repeat it all over again the next day. The Outer Banks is a hell of a good escape if you just want to keep things quiet and relaxing.

Here are a select few photos of the hundreds I took on that trip:

The beach has a mix of small grassy dunes and flat spots to set up camp for the day.

I love the way the homes were painted to be bright and give off that beach town feel.

Cape Hatteras Lighthouse. It's pretty crazy that they actually moved this lighthouse due to land erosion. 

Just one of the many different sunsets we experienced over the sound. The colours change so frequently and so quickly it is best to grab a seat and enjoy the entire process wherever you are.

One of the best reasons to visit The Outer Banks; the beach!

There is very little light pollution once you're off the main land, so all the stars come out to play!

Day or night, this is the spot to catch some fish!

Another sunset over the sound. 

With a proper permit you can drive and camp on certain sections of the beach. This has been added to my bucket list!

Stunning beach homes everywhere!

I spent the majority of my time lounging on the beach, sipping on some cold ones and enjoying my time off work and let me tell you, I cannot wait to head back next year!

If you've ever been, or are lucky enough to live there be sure to let me know in the comments below.

Thursday, 14 April 2016

Drinking Beer in Niagara

Tourism and craft beer seem intimately entwined as the explosion in interest in the microbrewery marketplace continues. Aspiring brewers are tapping and cashing in to travel destinations where flocks of tourists seem to guarantee a market for their wares.

The Niagara Region of Ontario, Canada is a fascinating mix of tourism, spectacle and agriculture. Niagara Falls, long known as the Honeymoon Capital of the World, attracts millions of visitors each year who swarm to casinos, haunted houses, arcades and resorts; not to mention the falls themselves and the various adventure and exploratory activities offered both in and around them.

Niagara-on-the-Lake, in stark contrast, maintains a quaint, small town feel with a main street that offers wares-of-interest to the modern weekender. Less than 30 minutes from the falls, NOTL is surrounded by the area’s celebrated wine region, one of the prides of Ontario and another hotspot for tourism.

In an area awash in wine a burgeoning beer scene is emerging. I took a stumble around the area a few weeks ago in search of gems, here is what I found!

A beautiful brewery found along Niagara Stone Road, housed in “the Beer Shed.”  Everything about this brewery oozes quality and respect for brewing tradition, with even the name, oast house, being that of an old style kilning shed for drying hops. I consider Oast House a required destination for any trip to Niagara. I was fortunate enough to arrive just as they were finishing off an eisbock seasonal, a beer that is actually frozen in order to remove water and increase the alcohol content and associated characteristics. Quite an experience!

Saison Farmhouse Ale

Not the traditional session ale some expect from saisons, this 6.5-7% ABV offering brings surprisingly bready notes with a balance between citrus and pepper flavours most expect from saisons. A hint of bubblegum also comes through while the hops remain tame but present. Available at many LCBO stores in Ontario and highly recommended.

Barn Raiser Country Ale

A distinct, while slightly subdued, American pale ale, and the breweries flagship brew, Barn Raiser is made for social events like the one after which it is named. Flavours of straw and honey are quickly overcome by delicious sweet citrus fruit like tangerines from the hops. Due to the brewer’s dedication that it be served fresh, Barn Raiser is generally only available at the brewery and on taps at select bars throughout southern Ontario; though fortunately, we did catch wind that new cans may be available in stores soon.

Another lovely location along Niagara Stone Road, Silversmith is housed in an old church built in the late 1800’s. Like Oast, you can feel the passion for beer when you walk through the doors.

Bavarian Breakfast Wheat

Very light and effervescent, banana shines through this yeast-forward entry. Not heavy or overly filling like a traditional wheat, we could certainly see enjoying this with brunch on a sunny spring day.

Black Lager

A great entry in the schwarzbier category which is picking up steam in Ontario. This beer brings mild coffee and dark fruit flavours to the fore with woody hops backing them up. All this is wrapped in a light bodied, easy drinking package.

Dropping this nano brewery in the heart of the quaint town of Niagara-on-the-Lake was a bold move, a boldness that is matched by the stark, modern design and d├ęcor of the brewery itself. The Exchange has only been open for a few months and while they have their branding brilliantly forged, their beers are somewhat unrefined. I look forward to seeing what they put up as they mature.

#1 American Wheat Ale

This beer brings some nice tartness and spice to a style that can be, at times, a little hop forward. The Exchange manages a nice profile, bringing clove flavour with notes of grapefruit and tart kiwi.

Located at the base of Clifton Hill, the notorious tourism/entertainment district of Niagara Falls, Niagara Brewing is a lively location for beer and stylish pub food. There are a few misses on their beer menu, along with some so-so seasonals like their novel Ice Wine Beer and Peach Radler. Nonetheless, a neat stop when you are taking in the neon on “the Hill.”

Beerdevil IPA

Sweet caramel highlights the malt profile and gives this beer a somewhat non-IPA characteristic. Moderately hoppy with citrus and grassiness dominating.

You might think a teaching brewery would produce sub par brews, but with their focus on getting their name, and their beers, out there via festivals and other beer events, Niagara College actually has some wonderful products.

Butler’s Bitter

An exceptional example of this traditional style, NC manages to pack bold malt and hop flavours together to produce an incredibly satisfying experience. If you can find it, get it. 

Wednesday, 30 December 2015

Christmas at Home Thanks to Ford Canada

Christmas is undoubtedly my favourite time of year. I love the feeling that surrounds it. People are friendlier, extended family makes themselves more available, friends host parties and of course children light up at the thought of Christmas morning.

A present under the tree
To tackle all my Christmas shopping and to make it home to celebrate with my girlfriend’s and my family, the fine folks at Ford Canada supplied us with a Ford Explorer Platinum to #GoFurther for the holiday break. The Explorer came in handy quite a few times over the holidays as we were able to load up all of our gifts, our Siberian Husky and a friend (her gifts too) with plenty room to spare. We were all quite comfortable in the roomy cabin, but my girlfriend and I were pampered with massaging seats in the cockpit.

Ford Explorer parked at my girlfriends parent's house.

I was excited to have the Explorer which made it possible for me to make it up to my parents’ house this year for Christmas Eve. I love seeing how my mom has decorated the house, she is quite the artist when it comes to decorating the Christmas tree. This year was no exception as she used bronze, copper and brown ornaments on a white tree (the only thing white about this Christmas this year!). I woke up a little bit earlier than everyone and quickly filmed it in all its glory. Check that out below:

My dad ended up gifting me and my girlfriend engineered hardwood flooring to spruce up our kitchen floor. Thank the stars we actually had the Explorer or we never would’ve got that home with the sub compact car I would’ve rented to save money. Unfortunately though I now have a project to complete on my next day off…thanks Dad!

Hardwood flooring, padding and laundry. It all fits in the Explorer!
The holidays are spent with family, so we didn't just visit mine. In the morning of Christmad Day we loaded up the gifts into the Explorer and drove over to my girlfriends parents' house. My girlfriends mom is a great cook and baker, so we had an amazing spread of turkey, stuffing, potatoes, yams, turnip and veggies. Afterwords we had some home made treats and a cheesecake so delicious words wouldn't do it justice. What I love about her family is that similarly to mine they also give it all they've got to decorate the house. After a gift exchange we unfortunately had to hit the road, pick up our pooch and head back to the big city.

My girlfriends family's living room all decked out in Christmas decor!

Between both parents' homes and back and forth to the city for dreaded boxing day shopping, we put this truck through it's paces. One thing I noticed was how smooth and quiet the ride was, unless of course we were blasting Christmas Carols and singing along. The other little perks available in this model actually saved our butts a few times, particularly the park assist feature. Parallel parking with any vehicle in Toronto can be a pain, let alone a big SUV. The parking assist made it a piece of cake by doing it for me! All I had to do was hit one button and apply or let go of the brakes. While this terrified my girlfriend the first time we tried it, there was no denying it was incredible.

The controls of the cockpit, and a heated steering wheel!

As hard as it was to get in the spirit with it being a green Christmas, I am extremely glad I was able to make it home to see family and friends thanks to the good folks at Ford Canada. I hope you all were also able to get home and see your friends and family. If you have any interesting stories from your holidays please share below in the comments, I'd love to hear them!

Happy New Year everyone!