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.