Tag Archives: Canada

Chutes Provincial Park Visitors Guide

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*This article was originally posted on September 21st, 2020 and has since been restructured, edited, and reposted to provide a more enjoyable and informative reading experience.*


In September of 2020, I went on a road trip to Manitoulin Island, and decided to car camp at Chutes Provincial Park in Massey, Ontario, Canada for 2 nights. Here are some photo highlights of the stay, and why everyone should make time to explore this small, yet picturesque park.



Chutes Provincial Park, Ontario, Canada

The entrance to Chutes Provincial Park is tucked just off of the Trans-Canada Highway, making it an easy stopping off point while driving in-between Sudbury and Sault Ste. Marie.

Chutes Provincial Park, Ontario, Canada

Chutes Provincial Park is named for its’ logging history along the Aux Sables River. Every Campsite is within close walking distance to the river, and the roar of the waterfall echoes in the distance.

Chutes Provincial Park, Ontario, Canada

The only comfort station is in a central location to all of the campsites and was always very clean. There are plenty of privies scattered along the camp roads if you don’t want to go too far in the middle of the night. They are in some of the best condition I’ve seen in an Ontario park!

Chutes Provincial Park, Ontario, Canada

My campsite was located on Big Chute Crescent, which is accessed via Log Drive Lane, just past the comfort station.

Chutes Provincial Park, Ontario, Canada

Campsite #98. My home for the next 2 nights. Well treed for lots of privacy, 2 picnic tables, and only a short walk to the falls and the Twin Bridges Trail. There are privies just down the road, and a water tap is located right next door. In my opinion, this section of Chutes Provincial Park (which happens to be a radio free zone) offers the best sites for car camping.

Chutes Provincial Park, Ontario, Canada

The park’s main observation deck hangs just next to the Falls and offers a great place to first get acquainted with the scenery when you arrive.

Chutes Provincial Park, Ontario, Canada

The main falls are an awe-inspiring sight, and a short walk from anywhere in the park.


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Chutes Provincial Park, Ontario, Canada

The main falls, and the day use beach in the distance.

Chutes Provincial Park, Ontario, Canada

The day use beach area is only a short walk from the falls, and makes for a great place to have a picnic by the water.

Chutes Provincial Park, Ontario, Canada

Although the Park only has one walking trail, it is well worth the stop. It offers stunning views, rocky terrain, and a taste of the untamed northern wilderness. There are plenty of places to stop and take pictures, and the trail is never overly busy with other hikers. The walking is fairly easy as well, so anyone can take part.

Chutes Provincial Park, Ontario, Canada

The Twin Bridges trail follows the banks of the Aux Sables River, offering plenty of photo opportunities at every turn. The pictures that follow showcase just a few of the many sights to be seen.


Chutes Provincial Park, Ontario, Canada
Chutes Provincial Park, Ontario, Canada
Chutes Provincial Park, Ontario, Canada
Chutes Provincial Park, Ontario, Canada

Chutes Provincial Park, Ontario, Canada

Calmer sections of the river provide a brief and quiet moment of refuge from the raging torrents of the rapids soon to come.

Chutes Provincial Park, Ontario, Canada

Perhaps the most stunning part of the trail, the convergence of the two halves of the river lead into the Seven Sisters Rapids. The raw strength of the flowing water is an impressive sight.

Chutes Provincial Park, Ontario, Canada

The trail past this point continues further into the woods, but the hike up to here is well worth it on its own!

Chutes Provincial Park, Ontario, Canada

I highly recommend staying at Chutes Provincial Park. The staff are friendly, the campsites are well tended to, and the location and scenery are hard to beat! If you have any questions, feel free to leave me a comment below and I’ll do my best to answer.


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Countries You Didn’t Know Shared a Border With Canada

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Canada is a massive country. At 9.985 million km² (3.855 million mi²) it is second in size only to Russia. It has the largest coastline of any nation in the world at 243,042 km (151,019 mi), and touches three oceans: the Pacific, the Atlantic, and the Arctic. To travel from one side of the country to the other would take an astounding 61 hours of straight driving.

And yet for all its size, Canada is only bordered by one other nation: the United States of America. At least, that’s most people would tell you. Upon further investigation, you’ll actually find that Canada shares a border with two other countries: The Kingdom of Denmark, and France.

1.) Canada – France Maritime Border

Located just 25 kilometers (16 mi) off the coast of the Canadian Province of Newfoundland and Labrador, the island of St. Pierre and Miquelon is the last remaining piece of a once large French colonial presence in North America. It covers an area of just 242 square kilometres (93 sq mi), and has a population of just over 6,000 people. The island also operates in its own time zone, (UTC-3) 30 minutes ahead of its Canadian counterpart. (UTC-3).

Despite St. Pierre and Miquelon’s close proximity to Canada, this overseas territory retains complete French sovereignty. Residents have French citizenship, cars have European license plates, and all business is conducted in the Euro. To get to St. Pierre and Miquelon, there is a ferry that runs regularly to and from Fortune, Newfoundland, with the crossing taking about 90 minutes.

St. Pierre and Miquelon (Source)
The city streets offer a taste of France (Source)

According to Newfoundland and Labrador Tourism, St. Pierre and Miquelon has managed to surprisingly stay culturally unique from its North American neighbors, and retains a striking similarity and dedication to the French Mainland. As Newfoundland Tourism says, St. Pierre isn’t like France, it is France.

It may seem obvious, but you’ll need a passport to visit the island, and will need to clear customs just like any other international border. Although throughout history there have been a number of maritime border disputes between France and Canada over this overseas territory, mainly due to fishing rights, in 1992 an international arbitration committee finally settled on the official maritime boundary which is seen today.

Aerial view of St. Pierre and Miquelon (Source)
Canada – France Customs Office in Fortune, Newfoundland (Source)

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2.) Canada – Demark Maritime Border

Canada and the Kingdom of Denmark share the longest maritime border in the world at 2,646 kilometres, (1,644 mi) thanks to the Danish territory of Greenland. As with St. Pierre and Miquelon, there has been a history of countering border disputes between the exact location of each nation’s boundary. In 1972, these disputes were finally settled in a bilateral agreement; that is however, except for one small island located in the Nares Strait, just south of the Arctic Ocean. This place is known as Hans Island.

Canada – Denmark Maritime Boundary Agreement (Source)

Hans Island is essentially a large rock in the middle of nowhere. It measures just 1.3 square kilometres (0.5 sq mi), and sits exactly in the middle of the 35 km stretch between Canada and Greenland, with the maritime border running right down the middle of the island. It is absurdly far from the nearest populated areas, with the closest being Alert, Canada (198 km, pop. 62) and Siorapaluk, Greenland (349 km, pop. 68).

The Indigenous Inuit populations of Canada and Greenland have been using Hans Island as part of their traditional hunting grounds for centuries, long before Europeans even made their first presence known in North America, but other than that, the island doesn’t really provide any significant economic, strategic, or historical value to either Canada or Denmark.

Aerial view of Hans Island (Source)
Competing flag raising ceremonies on Hans Island (Source)

And yet both nations have made significant efforts to claim sovereignty over Hans Island. Don’t get ahead of yourself though, this conflict is quite possibly the most peaceful international dispute of all time. In the 1980s the Canadian military visited the island, raised a Canadian flag, and left behind a bottle of Canadian Whisky with a note that said, “Welcome to Canada”. The Danish responded by visiting the island themselves, raised their own national flag and left behind a bottle of Danish Schnapps with a note that said, “Welcome to the Danish Island”.

Since then, both countries have traded bottles of liquor on occasional visits to the disputed territory, thus earning the conflict the fitting nickname of the Whisky Wars. Recently, there have been efforts to resolve the border dispute once and for all, although nothing has been formally agreed on as of writing this post. One such suggestion is to make Hans Island a condominium, or a shared piece of land between the two nations. One island, flying under two different flags.


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How to Travel Europe Without Leaving Canada

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In Canada, specifically in the southern portion of the province of Ontario, we’re not exactly in the running for the “most creative city names” award. It seems like almost every place is named after somewhere else, and this has led to some interesting conversations whenever I’ve gotten back from travelling somewhere abroad.

When I was in elementary school, my family went on a trip to London, England and Paris, France. I was in grade 2, and was about to turn 7 years old. My dad had scrounged together enough frequent flyer miles from travelling for work to take the family on vacation. It would be my first trip to Europe, and as far as I’m aware, I was the only kid in my class who had travelled overseas. So when I got back from the trip and was talking to my classmates about where I went, there was some initial confusion.

See, there are two Ontario towns not too far from each other that are named London, and Paris. So to everyone else it wasn’t exactly an impressive feat heading for a short drive down the highway. It took a while but eventually I managed to convince them that I had been to the Real London and Paris out there way across the Atlantic Ocean. There have been a few examples of this throughout my life, and every time I can’t help but wish those early settlers had come up with some original names, or better yet just used the Indigenous names that had already been given to those areas.

However, this lack of creativity means that you are able to travel to a multitude of “European” cities over a small part of just one day. In a mere 4 hours, and 300 km you can visit Paris, Vienna, Copenhagen, London, Dublin, Brussels and Lisbon! All without buying a single plane ticket; talk about bang for your buck.

Check it out on the map below:

This road trip is definitely on my radar come 2021, and I’ll be sure to document my “European” adventure when the time comes. While these are mostly small towns surrounded by nothing but boring roads and farmland, doing it for the sake of doing it is really all the convincing I need.


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What is the Furthest Place From You on Earth?

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The other night I was exploring Google Maps when a thought crossed my mind:

What is the furthest place from me on Earth?

The obvious answer would be 20,037 km (12,472 miles) in any direction, being that’s half the circumference of the planet, but that puts me somewhere in the middle of the Indian Ocean and seeing as I don’t own an ocean liner that’s not exactly helpful information.

So my next step was to find the nearest large city with an airport to that location. For that, I discovered a website called furthestcity.com (not sponsored). I simply typed in my location (Toronto, Canada) and let their algorithm do the rest.



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It turned out that the furthest possible destination that I could travel to with a population above 100,000 is Perth, Australia at 18,153 km (11,279 miles) away. In fact, according the the website, the top 5 destinations are all located in Australia. In order for me to get to Perth, it would take an average travel time of 40 hours! I can’t even begin to think about how sore my body would be from enduring that kind of journey.


As a bonus, I also learned what the furthest capital city is from me. This turned out to be Port-aux-Francis, a French settlement town located halfway between Australia and Africa in the southern Indian Ocean. Something tells me this isn’t exactly an easy place to get to.

If you’re interested in finding out the furthest city from you on Earth, check out furthestcity.com. Leave me a comment below on where you’re from, and what your results say. If you’re from Perth, Australia I think it would be kind of cool to know someone on the opposite side of the world!


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Tales From a Lost Water Bottle

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One of the things that intrigues me the most about travelling is the brief encounters you have with people all over the world. Every single person you come across has their own life, memories, and experiences different from your own. I often think about those brief moments in time in which you cross paths with others, and about all of the things you will never know about them, or their story.

One such materialization of these thoughts came last year in the form of my university roommate’s water bottle. Right from the time I moved in, it caught my eye. It was covered from head to toe by stickers from several national and provincial parks, the flags from a multitude of provinces, and a bunch of outdoor brands’ logos. One day I finally asked him about it, and it turned out that the water bottle wasn’t even originally his. The curiosity, and the mystery of who it belonged to ate at me for months. Who was this person? What was their story?

One day, as it was getting closer to Christmas, we were waiting for our lecture to start. My roomate pulled out the mystery bottle to take a drink and I re-sparked the conversation of who its’ owner might be. This time, we took special notice of sticker on it’s side that said “CKCU”. When I googled it, a student run radio station in Ottawa, Ontario came up.

Finally a lead.

We both got excited and decided that the bottle must belong to a DJ or an avid listener of the station. Seeing how niche a student run radio station is, we figured that contacting them might just get this mystery solved. My roommate Alex got to work, drafted up an email, and hit send.

What follows is that exact email:

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Greetings,

I found this green Nalgene water bottle in Hearst, ON while tree planting this past spring. When I saw it in town on a day off, and I thought it might have belonged to one of my crew members so I grabbed it. No one from my crew claimed it and for the last 6 months, I have been in the possession of someone else’s water bottle. There are at least three tree planting companies that operate out of Hearst and the bottle likely belonged to one of their planters.

Based on the wear, and the vast amount of stickers, I imagine that it’s pretty special to them and they miss it very much. This beautiful bottle may even have a name, but if it does, it’s a name I do not know. Seeing as this isn’t my bottle I’d like to get it back to its rightful owner and I think that there is a possibility that you guys may be able to help. The most identifiable and significant sticker on the bottle is a CKCU sticker.

Do you know who the owner of this bottle is? Do you have any way of finding out? If you do, I’d love to send it home for Christmas.

– Alex “

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We waited and waited until one day we finally got a response.

Unfortunately, the radio station told us, nobody recognized the water bottle. We were devastated.

However, they agreed that they would help us in our quest to find the bottle’s owner, and possibly send it home. They posted Alex’s email and photo on their website with the hopes that one of their listeners might see it.

As of writing this in November of 2020, the bottle’s rightful owner has still not been found. Although my roommate continues to take care of it like it were his own, I can’t help but wonder what stories it would tell if it could. Where its’ been, what its owner has done, and the people they’ve come across together in their travels. It may just be a water bottle, but behind it is a person who I will likely never know. The stickers give me a small glimpse into their life, memories, experiences and story.

In my lifetime, it’s certain that there will be a number of people, stories and experiences that I will never have the fortune of knowing. The water bottle, and its’ owner, is just another example of this.

So when I do get to meet someone new, have a fresh experience, or get a glimpse of a previously unknown story, even if just for the briefest of moments, I’m just glad that I was given the opportunity to do so.


Thank you so much for reading, and if you’ve made it this far please consider liking the post, sharing it with your friends, and hitting the follow button so you don’t miss any of my upcoming material! And don’t forget to follow me on InstagramFacebookTwitter, and Pinterest!

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Canadian Road Trip: A Snapchat Story

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In May of 2018, I was invited on a 17-hour, 1500 km road trip from southern Ontario to Beresford, New Brunswick with my friend Sam and his family. In order to help pass the time, and in an effort to remember the experience I posted a story on my snapchat account every hour of the car ride, plus a little extra. What follows are the pictures documenting the journey:

We had to leave bright and early in the morning in order to make it in time for dinner later that day. The 3:30 a.m. wake up call also insured we would be driving through the dense forests of New Brunswick in the day-light. Crucial in avoiding a deadly collision with a Moose.

If you’ve ever driven through Toronto, you would understand the extra benefit of driving through the city in the middle of the night. Highway 401, which runs right through the heart of the city is the busiest highway in all of North America, carrying upwards of half a million people per day. No traffic meant we saved upwards of an hour and a half on our trip.

At this point we had been driving for quite a while, and seeing as none of us had eaten yet, Tim Horton’s was always going to be our first stop. Double Doubles, Timbits, and some bacon breakfast sandwiches were just what we needed.

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After picking up refreshments, we got back on the road. Now, if you’re not from Canada then it’s important to know that we tend to make fun of the French province of Quebec. The English – French rivalry in Canada has it’s roots in the formation of the country, which was dominated by settlers from the United Kingdom, and France battling for control of the land surrounding the St. Lawrence river, and the fertile great lakes region.

The closer we got to Quebec, the more vocal my jabs at the French became. The only problem – Sam and his family have French heritage (hence the road trip to partly French New Brunswick) so they were having none of it. It was all in fun, but deep down I knew it ever so slightly got to them. Thus, in order to prevent a civil war in the car, some ground rules had to be established:

  1. There shall be no French slander of any kind; and
  2. If said rule is broken I will be spending the remaining 10 hours of the drive sitting in the trunk.

We continued.

For those that don’t know, Canada is a bilingual nation. This means that our two official languages are French and English. The school system is mandated to teach both, but this doesn’t mean they do a good job.

This trip was the first time that I had been to another Canadian province other than my home of Ontario. It was a long time in the making, and I thought Quebec and New Brunswick were well worth the wait.

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Most of this trip was spent on the road in 5 hours blocks, and there was no exception to this rule. You had better use the washroom when we were filling up on gas because otherwise you’d be peeing in a water bottle in the backseat.

The legal drinking age in Quebec is 18 years old, which is one year lower than Ontario, so you better believe we took this opportunity to buy some beer. To our surprise, we didn’t get ID’d by the gas station attendant and made it out without issue. Don’t worry, we didn’t open the beverages until we got to our final destination. It was a well deserved cold one.

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By this time in the road trip my brain had turned to mush, my legs were practically falling off, and we were all getting pretty irritable. Luckily we didn’t have relatively far left to go and so, we pushed on.

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Let me tell you, when we finally pulled off the highway and saw our first glimpse of the Atlantic Ocean, well, that was a fantastic feeling. We were itching to get out of the car and be greeted by a nice home cooked meal, and a couple drinks by the fire.

Although long, the journey was well worth it. I was grateful to see more of my home country and gained a new appreciation for the diversity such a large nation offers. We stayed in New Brunswick for a week, before cramming in the back of the car for the 17-hour return journey.


Thank you so much for reading, and if you’ve made it this far please consider liking the post, sharing it with your friends, and hitting the follow button so you don’t miss any of my upcoming material! And don’t forget to follow me on InstagramFacebookTwitter, and Pinterest!

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Cup and Saucer Trail Guide – Manitoulin Island

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Cup and Saucer trail

The Cup and Saucer trail is a 14 kilometer hiking trail located on Manitoulin Island, just west of Little Current, Ontario. It navigates an extension of the of the Niagara Escarpment, and features 70-meter sheer cliffs, large forested areas, narrow rock-lined footpaths, and several awe-inspiring lookouts over the island’s many lakes, including the largest lake on an island on a lake in the world, Lake Manitou.

About a 6-hour drive from Toronto and 2 hours west of Sudbury, the Cup and Saucer trail is no day trip for many. However, it makes for a great opportunity to camp overnight and take in the sites of beautiful Northern Ontario. Personally, I recommend staying at Chutes Provincial Park, a small yet picturesque park located about an hour drive away in Massey, Ontario, which offers its own scenic trails, a raging river, and a large waterfall.

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The parking lot at the trailhead of the Cup and Saucer is split into 2 parts: an upper and lower level. The lots are small; when I arrived at around 11 a.m. the upper lot was already jam packed, and the lower lot was quickly filling up, so I recommend getting there early. Each level has convenient access to a porta potty, and considering this is a longer hike I would make use of their availability (although make sure to bring your own toilet paper!).

Cup and Saucer Trail Map
The trailhead map of the Cup and Saucer Trail

The hike consists of 3 sections: the Main Trail (4 km), the South Loop (5 km), and the Adventure Trail (500m). If your looking to keep it short, 3 of the 4 marked lookouts are located on the Main Trail and they alone make the trip worth the effort. This is as far as I went when I did the hike and I was very content with not going any further. However, if you’re looking for more, the South Loop and Adventure Trail are both excellent additions with the latter being relatively more difficult.

The hike along the Main Trail took me just under 2 hours, totaling 5.62 km according to my Samsung Galaxy Fit. Although the parking lot was full, the trail congestion itself was fairly spaced out, making for quite an enjoyable experience. There are several steep and rocky sections that may be more difficult for some than others, but in general the Cup and Saucer can be enjoyed by anyone. (I saw quite a few people that brought their small children, and even dogs along with them!)

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All in all, the Cup and Saucer is well worth the stop. The hike can be challenging at times, but what it asks from you, it gives twice as much back. Manitoulin Island itself is a fantastic destination to visit on its own, offering memorable scenery, quaint communities, and rich Indigenous culture and history which I implore you take the time to discover yourself.

Cup and Saucer trail

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3 Binge-Worthy Travel Shows to Watch While You’re Stuck at Home

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Andre Dupuis (Cinematographer and co-creator), Justin Lukach (co-host), and Scott Wilson (co-host and co-creator) of Departures.

By now, all of us are getting pretty sick and tired of this whole self-isolation thing. The world is out there, calling to us, practically dragging us out the front door with our passports in hand. Unfortunately, it might be some time before we’ll actually be able to go anywhere except the grocery store.

So in the meantime, I’ve put together a list of my favourite binge-worthy travel shows. Grab your popcorn, take a seat on the couch, and get ready to explore the world in the comfort of your own home.

1. Departures

Available for free on YouTube or on Amazon Prime, Departures is a down-to-earth documentary travel series that follows three lifelong Canadian friends, Andre Dupuis (Cinematographer and co-creator), Justin Lukach (co-host), and Scott Wilson (co-host and co-creator) as they drop everything and take a year off from their everyday lives in search of new adventure, unique destinations, and self-discovery while travelling around the globe.

Departures, Scott Wilson, Justin Lukach, Andre Dupuis
A still from Departures‘ opening credits

Departures isn’t afraid to chronicle the reality of travel, and all of the emotional highs and lows that comes with it. It is perhaps the most relatable travel series ever created, and that is one of the many reasons why it is my personal favourite, and I can’t recommend it enough.

Some of the show’s must-see episodes include North Korea: The Other Side (S3-E12), India: Sacred Ground (S1-E3), and Ascension Island (S1-E5).

The show originally aired from 2009-2010, spanning 3 seasons and 42 episodes. Departures boasts a 9.0/10 on IMDb and has been nominated for several Gemini Awards, including two wins.

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2. James May: Our Man in Japan

Available on Amazon Prime, James May: Our Man in Japan is a highly produced travel series that follows the comedic journey of television presenter James May (Top Gear and The Grand Tour) as he explores the length of Japan and discovers the quirks and hidden gems of the sometimes mysterious nation.

James May: Our Man in Japan
Presenter James May, and his robot sidekick Robohon

I’ll admit that I have a soft spot for anything Japan related, but nonetheless James May: Our Man in Japan does a fantastic job of showcasing a multitude of differing aspects of Japanese culture. From creating his own subway jingle, to controlling life-sized transformers, to simply trying his best to order a bowl of noodles, James May: Our Man in Japan does it all while keeping you laughing the entire time.

Here is the trailer for the show, and one of my personal favourite moments involving that of James’ love-hate relationship with small robot named Robohon.

James May: Our Man in Japan spans 1 season including 6 episodes and well deserves the 8.5/10 rating it has on IMDb. It is a show you won’t regret watching.

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3. Around the Next Bend

Also available on Amazon Prime, Around the Next Bend is raw documentary travel series that chronicles the reckless adventure of two friends from Canada, Adrian Traquair and Dustin Corkery, as they voyage on a journey of self discovery in their attempt to paddle a mind-boggling 2,500+ km long stretch of the Ganges River in a raft.

Around the Next Bend, Adrian Traquair, Dustin Corkery
Adventurers Adrian Traquair and Dustin Corkery paddling on the Ganges River

From the moment they arrive in India it becomes clear that they are woefully unprepared for the monumental task that is ahead of them. Their time on the river is full of hardship, surprises and a whole lot of laughs.

Much like Departures, Around the Next Bend is a very down-to-earth show. If you can get past the relatively low production value, you will see parts of India, and moments of human connection rarely traversed or witnessed by your everyday traveller.

Around the Next Bend has 1 season, including 12 episodes and received a 8.6/10 rating on IMDb. It is a breath of fresh air in contrast to some of the more conventional travel shows shown on TV.

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Thank you so much for reading, and if you’ve made it this far please consider liking the post, sharing it with your friends, and hitting the follow button so you don’t miss any of my upcoming material! And don’t forget to follow me on InstagramFacebookTwitter, and Pinterest!

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Coffee Run: Niagara Falls

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Have you ever been so bored that you decided to go on an impromptu coffee run to Niagara Falls at 10 o’clock at night?


Well I have.


Welcome to life in boring southern Ontario. It’s not uncommon for myself, and my friends Sam and Devon to go and get coffee late at night. In fact, it had become a daily tradition ever since the beginning of our grade 12 year of high school. Just old enough to drive, yet still too young to drink. That meant the bar was out of the question, so off to Tim Horton’s we went.


The order of choice? Well an extra-large double-double of course, and occasionally a sour cream glazed donut. We would sit in the booth and talk among ourselves whilst browsing Reddit for hours. At about midnight, we would head out, cram into the back of a mid 2000’s Toyota Highlander, and drive 5 minutes down the road to the next Tim Horton’s where we would hangout until either our mothers got worried, or we got kicked out because the 24 hour restaurant was “closing”; whichever came first.


As you can imagine, over the course of 8 months this began to resemble something like Groundhog Day. The solution: visit neighbouring cities and see what their Tim Horton’s were like! Night by night, coffee by coffee we managed to drink our way through pretty much every location in the region. When we realized we had nowhere new left to go, we realized we had reached a defining moment. Would we simply admit defeat, go home, and play video games like a normal group of teenage boys? No! We had to persevere! Surely there were more Tim Horton’s to discover!


Now, here is where I will admit that this expedition to Niagara Falls was not of my planning. It had been mentioned in passing on several coffee runs as a joke, but it was my friend Sam who decided to actually put it all together. (Mainly because he was the only one with a car) I got a text from him at around 9 o’clock on a late August night, reading the ever so familiar question: “Tim’s?”. I agreed but knew something was up when after picking up our buddy Devon from work, and upon arriving at the Tim Horton’s closest to our houses, we did something completely unheard of: we went through the drive thru.


I questioned the night’s plan but received no answer. We got our drinks, headed for the highway, and pulled onto the Q.E.W. This wasn’t too unusual as there are plenty of coffee spots on this route, but with drinks already in hand I watched as we took an exit and passed under the road sign that confirmed my suspicions. We were headed to Niagara Falls. My first instinct was to panic. By this time I was getting ready to move away to university. The last thing I needed was for my parents to find a reason to cut me off, forcing me to live in a cardboard box in Dundas square. On top of that, the very next day Sam was due to come up to the cottage with me and my parents for the weekend. If his, or my parents found out we were headed to the falls, you could throw those plans right out the window.


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Did I mention that we didn’t tell our parents where we were going? Like, as in not just on this trip, but throughout the entire history of Tim’s runs. This whole time they thought we were just down the road safe and sound within arms reach. To venture and hour and a half down the highway without their knowledge was asking for trouble.


It was about midnight when we arrived. We parked the car and walked down to the river where we got our first glimpse of one of the seven natural wonders of the world. Niagara Falls. Millions of people from all over the world have travelled, and paid a pretty penny to see this waterfall, and here we were just on the quest for some sub-par caffeinated beverages. Of course, we took some obligatory photos, but then made our way to the gift shops and arcades where we blew all of the loose change we had to win a collection of cheap plastic toys.The ironic part in all of this was that we had actually lost track of time, and Tim Horton’s closed for the night before we could get there. So, we decided to settle for Wendy’s instead.


It was here, waiting in line for chicken nuggets at 2 in the morning when we discovered what genuine fear for our lives felt like. Out of the blue, Sam’s phone went off. It was a text from his mother that simply read:

“Get home. Now.”

Had she figured out where we were? Was she watching us? Did someone rat us out? By now did she mean now now, or like whenever it suits you now? Either way, we were screwed. We were supposed to be a 2-minute drive from his house, not a 2-minute drive from the United States of America.


We grabbed our orders, hurried back to the car, and put the pedal to metal. How we made it back home in the time we did is one of the top 10 questions science still can’t answer. Regardless, we had made it back. Sam dropped Devon and I off at our houses and headed back to his to face the wrath of God.


I crept into a quiet house, making sure not to wake the dog. I made it to my room and laid awake in bed awaiting the e-vite to Sam’s funeral. But to my surprise, it never came. Darkness turned to light, and a new day was upon us. We had all managed to successfully sneak into our homes and submit the usual cover story to our parents as to where we had gone the night before. We had all given the same, simple yet effective answer: “We were at Tim’s.”


And so concluded our first annual coffee run to Niagara Falls. Was it pointless? Yes. Was it stupid? You bet. Would we eventually decide to venture to seemingly every Tim Horton’s within a 200 km radius of our homes? Without a doubt. But for the time being we had found a way to ease our boredom, if only for the night, and came away with a story to tell. There was only one question left to ask: where to next?


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