The second half of our first day in Canada was much more relaxed than the first half.
After the tree top obstacle course challenge and zip lining, our group changed into helmets for a cave adventure.
I struggle with claustrophobia, so I wasn’t sure whether or not I’d be able to handle the cave and expressed my concerns to the guides at Arbraska. They told me that there were a handful of tight spaces that we would have to crouch down to crawl through and that there would be a point in the cave tour when they’d turn off all the lights and we’d be in total darkness. I was really nervous and my anxiety level was pretty high as we walked into the cave.
Once the last person filed in, they closed the door and my heart started racing. Someone jokingly said “We’re trapped!” which is pretty much the last thing someone who is claustrophobic wants to hear and I quietly took one of the guides aside and said I wasn’t sure this tour was going to be my speed. He said it was a 60-minute tour and that there were definitely some tight spaces, so one of our press trip guides, Marouan, was kind enough to take me outside and around to the back of the cave so I could skip all of the freaky stuff.
I felt terrible about making him miss the tour but he was so kind and assured me that he has experienced the tour more than 20 times in the past so it wasn’t a big deal for him to miss it at all. Thank you again, Marouan!
We walked outside on a path around the cave and entered in the cave exit which was nice and big. Much more my style! Because it is still relatively warm in Canada, the stalactites and stalagmites weren’t very big, but the size of the cave was impressive to see.
While the rest of the group exercised their bravery and toured the cave, Marouan and I sat outside on a bench by a lake and chatted all about Canada.
This quiet time away ended up being one of the highlights of the day for me. I am a very curious traveler (Ryan calls me a “kid at summer camp” whenever we go anywhere) and I always jump at the chance to ask a billion questions and learn more about the places I visit and the culture. Marouan told me all about Quebec and answered my questions about the education system, government, lifestyle, food and more. He was very knowledgeable and we had fun talking about the differences between life in Florida and life in Quebec.
Our time on the bench passed quickly and soon the rest of the group was done with their cave tour. Anne and Jenn told me I made a very good decision when I decided to stay behind because they crawled through some very tight spots, so they helped me feel more secure with my decision to stay behind. My claustrophobia makes me feel so ridiculous sometimes and I wish I could talk myself out of it, but the panicky feeling I get isn’t one I can seem to shake. Not so fun!
Wakefield Mill Inn & Spa
Once everyone was ready to leave Arbraska, we thanked out guides for such a great time before piling back into the van and driving to the Wakefield Mill Inn & Spa to check in for the night.
The hotel will be totally decorated for fall next week, but we were still excited to see lots of pumpkins on the property as we carried our luggage inside. After we were handed our room keys, we had about 30 minutes to unpack and change before dinner so I hopped on the wifi and FaceTimed with Ryan and Sadie! (Please tell me that you guys intentionally hold the phone at ridiculously unattractive angles when you talk to loved ones on FaceTime. It cracks us up!)
My room was located on the top floor of the inn in the heritage-designated mill part of the hotel. The Eco River Lodge, a luxury boutique hotel, is located on the same property and features modern rooms with more space, but I am all about cozy rooms and loved mine the minute I rolled my suitcase inside.
The bed was crazy comfortable and I slept like a rock. I suppose the fact that I was super tired and full from dinner probably contributed to my solid sleep!
About 30 minutes before dinner, our group met up in the lobby and went on a guided tour of the inn that took us outside where we snapped lots of pictures of the beautiful waterfall and changing leaves.
I opened up the window of my room for some fresh air when we arrived and I could hear the waterfall from the fourth floor which was so relaxing. It was wonderful to be surrounded by such incredible natural beauty.
Behind the hotel we found lots of little decks and chairs for guests to use to relax and enjoy their surroundings. There is also a little tent outside where couples can enjoy an outdoor couple’s massage. Sign me up!
During our tour we also passed a framed letter from Hillary Clinton who stayed at the hotel during the North American Foreign Ministers Meeting.
Dinner was quite an event and our group dined at The Penstock, an upscale restaurant located on the lower level of the inn.
We were served a six-course discovery menu that kept us guessing and practically licking our plates clean.
The beef medallions we ate during the main course were grilled in hazel oil and served with a parsnip and manchebello pure with mushrooms, truffle oil and a cabbage sauté and confit purple potatoes. It was incredible!
One of my favorite courses was the cheese course that featured Heidi cheese (it tasted a lot like an incredibly creamy brie), banana cream, lavender and onion oil.
I couldn’t get enough of the banana cream and scooped it up with my fork as I ate the cheese. The salty and sweet combination was fabulous.
During dinner, I sipped on some fantastic wine and Premiere Neige, a wonderful ice cider.
Everything was so delicious and I complimented the chef (who is only 29!) on his ability to combine unexpected flavors like white chocolate and pepper and onion oil and banana to make such creative dishes that tasted wonderful. It was a great meal and we all went to bed feeling full and happy.
Our first day in Canada was unforgettable and the fun only continued in the morning.
Coming up next: Hiking, paddle boating and hot tub adventures!
Question of the Morning
- Do you have any phobias?
- Have you ever been inside a cave?
As this press trip continued, our group laughed a lot because it seems like we’ve all had to deal with our phobias at one point or another! I am claustrophobic, Candice doesn’t like heights, Jenn is very scared of wasps, Anne doesn’t like big dogs jumping on her and Kate is very nervous around cats and somehow we’ve come across all of these things in only three days.