Camp-X: Canadian #AtoZChallenge

X

 

This place had many different names. S25-1-1, Project-J, or STS-103 but was unofficially known as Camp-X

This place was located near Whitby/Oshawa, Ontario and was a joint effort between the Canadian and British governments.

In the 1940’s.

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What was this place?  A paramilitary training camp set up just before the attack on Pearl Harbor.  Many insist that Camp-X was key to many of the successes by allied forces during the war.


According to Wikipedia,  more than 500 allied units were trained at Camp-X during the war.  The camp was also responsible for the creation of Hydra, a station responsible for coding and decoding important communications  during the war.

Ian Flemming, James Bond author trained at Camp-X.  It’s often suspected that Bond is based on Sir William Stephenson, Canadian and Winston Churchill confidant responsible for the establishment of the centre in 1941.

Camp-X was only declassified in 1995, allowing us a peek into a secret spy training facility that might have been key to the outcome of the Second World War, right here in Canada.

THE REAL CAMP X: 10 FACTS ABOUT CANADA’S ELITE SPY SCHOOL

Quinte: Canadian #AtoZChallenge

Q

There were some good Canadian Q words/things.  Quebec and Queen came to mind.  Then someone suggested Quinte and I had to write about it.

 

Do you have that place that you always remember as a place that represents youth and adulthood at the same time?  The Bay of Quinte Region is that place for me.

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Growing up in Kingston, Ontario, The Bay of Quinte was about 45 minutes away from our hometown.  The bay itself is a zig-zaggy bay and the region hosts great Walleye fishing, wineries, golfing and sand beaches.  In Canada, having sand beaches nearby is something not to be taken advantage of.  Basically it was our version of living by the sea!  So where would we go on weekends, or on Fridays during the last couple of weeks of high-school (Shhhhh)?  Specifically – Picton Beach! And the best way to go was along the lake, taking the ferry over.  What an experience!

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Picton Beach is actually Sandbanks Provincial Park, but we call it Picton Beach.  The park hosts the world’s largest baymouth barrier dune formation – 10,000 years in the making – created when the massive Lake Iroquois receded, at the end of the last ice age leaving the puddle called Lake Ontario. The sand from the larger lake blew up, creating the dunes that rise almost 200 feet from the lake and stretch for 12 kilometres!

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Jasper: Canadian #AtoZChallenge

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Out of all the places in Canada, you would think that Jasper, Alberta would be a rather random place for me to highlight – but not after I show it to you!  When people think of the Canadian Rockies, they often think of British Columbia.  But how many people consider the eastern slope of the range? Banff, Canmore, Lake Louise, Kananaskis, Jasper are all stunning Canadian destinations in the Alberta rockies!

Jasper can refer to Jasper National Park or the Town of Jasper. People often say “Jasper” when they’re referring to that whole area in the Athabasca River Valley. The Town of Jasper was originally an outpost for the Hudson’s Bay Company (hey! My “H” #AtoZ!) and then was formally established as a town as the Grand Trunk Pacific Railway and Canadian Northern Railway developed their lines through the region.

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Jasper was also used as an internment camp for six months in 1916, holding Ukranian men (and some women and children) under the terms of the Canadian War Measures act while Canada was at war with Austria-Hungary. This internment across Canada of about 4,000 people left a scar on the Canadian Ukrainian community – which I’ll likely talk more about when I talk about Ukrainian culture in Canada on the #AtoZ “U” day.

Today, Jasper is a Canadian mountain town known for its recreational tourism.  People come from all over the world to visit Jasper National Park and to experience the nature and wildlife in the region.  It is definitely worth a visit if you’re in Canada.

Enjoy some of my photos from my time in Jasper!

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JennyRightSide’s 2015 Kayaking Season!!

I’m sure you’ve guessed by now that I love whitewater kayaking.

Big Cohones Rodeo

I used to paddle a LOT.  In fact, my life revolved around stream flows back in 2006 and 2007. I would chase the rain and drive from Ottawa to Tennessee to West Virginia in order to get on new and fun rivers!

After a bit of a hiatus, I started working with an incredible organization, Team River Runner, which helps wounded veterans and their family in health and healing through paddlesports.  There is a chapter here in Colorado Springs and I’ve been working with them since 2013.  Most of the paddling I’ve been doing lately has been in support of Team River Runner, however I did get a chance to paddle some rivers at my skill level this summer!

April

The season started in April, with two great paddling days.  The first was on Easter Sunday when a group of us met and paddled the Arkansas River with easter bunnies strapped to our boats and some even wore bunny ears!

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Everyone brought a mascot!

Everyone brought a mascot!

The second was the following weekend when a girlfriend and I went to beautiful Steamboat Springs for some skiing.  The snow was very icy and the hills a little painful, so we skied one day, then went into town and she fly-fished upstream while I spent a couple of hours surfing a the fun Charlie Hole on the Yampa. What fun to combine winter sports and summer sports in one trip! And, the Subaru was able to handle us and all the gear!

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May

Then in May we brought three Team River Runner chapters together for CKS Paddlefest in Buena Vista. We have a great campground owned by a veteran that we get to use each year. This year, we had veterans from Salt Lake City, Denver and Colorado Springs together for a fun weekend of paddling, watching freestyle events, checking out company booths and relaxing by the campfire. We were also blessed to have a personal whitewater clinic led by world-class pro paddlers Emily Jackson and Nich Troutman!!

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A week later, I was a student on an American Canoe Association Level 4 Whitewater Kayak instructor course put on by the Rocky Mountain Outdoor Center and Whitewater Attainment. This was a challenging course for me, having rusty skills and working with young, spry kids in their 20’s!  I worked my butt off to keep up with them on the river, and secretly collapsed, exhausted in my campsite at the end of each day!

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June/July/August

Through the rest of the summer, we held pool sessions and ran class I-II river trips for Team River Runner down the Arkansas River. I also taught beginner classes at the local lake in evenings after work.

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I also managed to squeeze in a great run through the now historic Brown’s Canyon with two awesome paddling chicks, Tara and Becky and two play sessions at the Pueblo Play Park!

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Pueblo Play Park

September

In September I was given my first opportunity to run Waterton Canyon near Denver.  Four times!  What a great III-IV run with access to walk back over and over to run it again.  Here’s the video from that great day!

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One of the highlights of the season was an incredible opportunity to assist on a three day Team River Runner leadership clinic through the Ruby/Horsethief and Westwater Canyons of the Colorado River. What an incredible experience and to work with veterans pushing their limits on some higher class III whitewater!

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I have such a feeling of accomplishment from this season, and really enjoy paying my passion for paddling forward to others!

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N = Nicaragua

NNicaragua is a country situated north of one of my favourite places: Costa Rica.  Despite some uneducated people warning me that Nicaragua was dangerous and that there was fighting along the border, I did some research and decided to take a day trip into the country from Guanacaste.

I’m so glad I did!

Nicaragua is a beautiful country, despite being one of the poorest in the Americas. I was happy to contribute even a little bit to their economy and to my guide. Tourism in Nicaragua is quickly growing, and I expect as more and more expats retire and visit Costa Rica, Nicaragua will be the next hidden gem. There is so much history, culture and fascinating architecture to experience.

One of the highlights of the visit was enjoying a local band play on the hill overlooking Laguna de Apoyo Natural Reserve.

Enjoy the photos I took from my short excursion!  I will definitely be back!

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M = Mountains

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I grew up in Ontario, Canada.  In fact, before I moved out to Colorado, I had never lived anywhere else. Mountains were never really a part of my life.  I knew they existed but had never been given the opportunity to experience them first hand.

I learned to ski at Horseshoe Valley Resort, north of Toronto. Horseshoe Valley has a difference in elevation of 308 feet. Another place in Ontario where I have skied is Calabogie Peaks, which apparently offers the highest vertical drop in Ontario of 761 feet.

My new home resort, Keystone Resort near Dillon, Colorado has a difference in elevation of 3,128 feet.  Just to give you an idea of what I’m used to and what I’m experiencing here in Colorado.

So, back to mountains. To be honest, I don’t know how I managed to live the majority of my life without being surrounded by mountains! My first time experiencing mountains was in Bosnia and then Switzerland. It was astounding to see them jut out of the earth as if they were the most powerful things nature had to offer.  It was terrifying driving switchbacks in Bosnia with no guard rails. It was exhilarating noticing the thinner but cleaner air.

When I cycled through the Canadian Rockies, I was really nervous.  I thought, how can I possibly get my little bike up those HUGE mountains?  But the mountains can be forgiving.  There are ways to get through them without going straight up. Valleys and passes assist us in being able to experience their majesty without as much effort as we might think.

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Although they can be forgiving, they are also not to be messed with. When I climbed Kilimanjaro, I truly learned to appreciate that the mountains are boss.  We passed many people who simply couldn’t handle the altitude, returning down the slopes with looks of defeat on their faces.

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Since I’ve lived in Colorado Springs, the form of Pikes Peak follows me wherever I go. I can drive into the mountains each weekend if I want to. I truly feel as if “The Mountains are Calling”, and I truly feel as if it’s where I belong.

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I = Iceland

II was intrigued by Iceland. It absolutely inspired me. I decided to spend two weeks in Iceland with my mom, travelling around the entire island and see what it was all about. What an incredible experience, and what stunning and gorgeous countryside.  This is a place of dreamers. There is so much majesty, you can’t help but feel the magic and imagine the generations of Sagas that tell wild and crazy stories of the country’s history.

I learned history, I tried local foods, I saw gnomes and trolls, I peered over waterfalls, I stood beside active geysers, I tasted million year old ice, I rode Icelandic horses (don’t call them ponies), I ate puffin (sorry birdie, had to try the local fare), and I met some of the friendliest people.

Enjoy the photos!

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H = Hectic

HI had this great idea about the A to Z Challenge.  I was going stay on track. I was going to find 26 great, outstanding, fascinating things to talk about and share with you.

Then I hit the letter “H”.

At first, I was going to write about my experiences in Hong Kong.  But I can’t find the photos from my week and a half there, staying with my dear friend who taught at the Kowloon YMCA.

Then I thought I would write about my 96 hours in Hungary (Budapest to be precise), and then realized that due to the morning train from Zagreb, Croatia and the beer cart rolling around at 8:30 am (It’s 11am somewhere, right?), that I don’t remember enough about my time there to accurately share my experience!

Then I went out of town for the weekend. I didn’t have access to any of my photos and I couldn’t think of another “H” thing to write about. Then, I realized that I was only two weeks away from the end of my current semester at Johns Hopkins University.  I’m taking two courses AND working full-time and I started to panic.  And since I didn’t have any photos to give you anyway, I hid from the A to Z Challenge.

A lot of people live hectic lives. Many are able to balance them successfully.  Others have difficulty. I am one who has difficulty but appears to have it all together. The truth is, I don’t. But I make it work. Sometimes to make it work, I do what I did this weekend. I just get away from it all. I dump it all from my mind and I do something completely different and unrelated. Then I return to reality.  And realize that I just put myself another three days behind schedule on EVERYTHING else in my life that I had to get done. But hey, it was a fun weekend.  And I’m happy. And that starts with H, too.

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Another thing I did when I was supposed to be doing homework. Origami. It didn’t work. So I doodles butterflies on it instead with highlighters meant for highlighting passages in smart people books.

Subscription Boxes for Outdoors Aficionados? Yes Please!

I’m a bit out on the loop on anything new or cool.  I don’t have cable TV, and I rarely listen to the radio, so the latest craze is sometimes lost on me.  Earlier this spring, I found out there’s such a thing as subscription boxes when we got an opportunity to have an online chat with the Social Media manager for Birchbox. I was intrigued.  It’s like a birthday present every month!  That you pay for!

So, me being pretty lo-maint, I wasn’t interested in getting boxes of makeup or craft supplies each month and I started googling for subscription boxes for the outdoors.  I was actually thinking I should start one up. Don’t know why I thought I could pull that off with full-time work and part-time school, but hey, I’m a dreamer.

This is where Cairn comes in. It’s a monthly subscription ” of carefully curated gear [that] will show up at your door”.  It’s the only subscription service for us outdoor nerds that I could find.  And it’s just getting started!

So I watched the company for a while and read reviews online.  The boxes were arriving with one awesomely cool piece of gear, and a collection of smaller items.  People were getting Hydro Flasks, and hammocks, and LifeStraws! The subscription cost $25/month with free shipping, but you were always getting at least $35 worth of outdoors items, so I signed up!

** Right now, Cairn only ships to U.S. addresses until they grow**

Here’s my review of Cairn’s August and September Boxes!

AUGUST BOX

This was my first box, and when it arrived in the mail, it was so light, that I thought they forgot to put stuff in it!

August Box

Here’s why. The August box had a Gosamer Gear Q-Ditty storage bag in it!  This thing weighs .02oz and is super strong! My thoughts were that if your entire storage system was made out of this stuff you could cut some serious weight from your pack. For me though, I don’t know if I would spend that kind of dough on an entire system. The Q-Ditty small is worth about $16 by itself.  But yay!  I have one.  Of course I was going to use it!  Here’s what I did with mine on our recent hike to Kroenke Lake, Colorado:

What I carry in the Q-Ditty

What I carry in the Q-Ditty

Spare paracord, matches, spare batteries, a spork (not shown) and my trusty Canada flag for picture taking!

Also in the box were a pair of Sea to Summit accessory straps, which were great for attaching the air mattress to DH’s rucksack, a Paleo Eats Cro Bar and a tube of Sunsect Sunscreen & Insect Repellant Combo. Both in one tube! Used by the U.S. military!  Total worth in August: $38.50.

SEPTEMBER BOX

My September box arrived this week! It was heavier!

What's in the box September Box!

Check it out!  Our big item was the new insulated Stanley Vacuum Pint with bottle opener. I am sure I still have my classic green Stanley thermos with insulating carrier in the basement somewhere.

So here’s the thing about this item. It’s supposed to keep your drinks cold or hot for a very long time, but there’s no sealing lid, so it’s for nursing a beer around a campfire, not for carrying your drink anywhere.  It also weighs quite a bit, so I wouldn’t bring it with me on a 4 mile hike up 2,000 feet of elevation when I’m trying to minimize what I have to carry.  BUT, this will be my backyard, car-camping, bonfire pint glass from this point forward and I’m excited to get to use it! Oh, and Miracle Loki the Siberian Husky also seems to really like it:

Loki loves her Stanley Vacuum Pint!

Also in this month’s box were two samples of Skoop A Game drink mix, which holds the equivalent of 10 servings of fruits and vegetables in a powder, and two samples of Sierra Sage organic outdoor first aid balms. One for muscles pains and one for stings, itches and healing.

Bring your A Game!

Bring your A Game!

Apparently, the salve smells good enough to eat!

Mmmm salve....

Mmmm salve….

The September box contains a worth of $42.20!

SWEET DEAL FOR YOU!

So, when I ordered my first box, I was able to use a $5 off coupon code provided by a fellow outdoor adventure blogger, Val in Real Life, making my first box only $20!

I would like to pay it forward to my followers.  If you liked what you saw (and here’s a list of all the boxes they’ve sent out so far and what was in them), I would like to offer you a $5 off coupon code for a new subscription as well!  Yay!

Just go to http://www.getcairn.com/products/cairn-subscription-box, use the coupon code JENNYRIGHTSIDE and Cairn will grant you $5 off your first box! Also, be sure to tell them when you sign up that Jenny Right-Side referred you with the email address jennyrightside [at] gmail [dot] com!! This offer is good through November 30, 2014!!!

** Right now, Cairn only ships to U.S. addresses until they grow**

ENJOY!!

** Disclaimer: I paid for both of these boxes, and did not receive any free products from Cairn or Cairn’s affiliates. This review is completely based on my experience subscribing to this service**

Jetpack America Contestant: Jenny Stadnyk

I am so excited! I’ve been selected as a contestant in Bucket List Publications’ Jetpack America Contest!

This thing looks cool! This one looks like it uses water to get you airborne and totally looks like a chance of a lifetime!

Please, please, please help me win this by sharing my contestant page below on all of your social media profiles! If I win, not only will you get GoPro footage of me screaming my face off, but I’ll bring Lil Guy up with me too!

Please click here and share my page: Jetpack America Contestant: Jenny Stadnyk.

Thank you so much!

xoxo
Jenny