A Whitewater Adventure with Wilderness Tours

KITC would like to welcome back guest blogger, Stephen Johnson.. Stephen Johnson is an Ottawa writer who loves to write about family travel.  During the summer, you will most likely find him and his family at a local fair or festival.  During the winter, a beach in Mexico is a likely bet.  
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Last summer, one of our family highlights was going on the Ottawa City Rafting Tour.  Once the warm weather hit this year, we decided to relive our whitewater adventures.  We wanted to go further afield and chose Wilderness Tours which is located about an hour and twenty minutes west of Ottawa along the Ottawa River.

white water rafting Ottawa

Arriving on-site,  the first thing I was impressed by was the size of the facility.  They have a restaurant, overnight accommodations, bungee jump and basketball courts amongst numerous other features.  We signed up for the family gentle rafting day trip and were quickly processed.

Our guide, Drew,  quickly instilled confidence as he briefed all participants about the safety aspects of the trip and introduced the other guides.  He had a laid back attitude, not about the safety, but made everyone feel at home and excited about the experience.

Soon enough, we were hopped on a yellow school bus and were ferried to our drop-off point on the Ottawa River.  With lifejackets on, we met up with Drew and were heading down the river in our raft. The trip started off with a bang as we took a rapid appropriately called Initiation.   Drew called out for everyone to get into our safety positions as we hit the rapid. It was exhilarating but I never felt in danger.

Wilderness Tours Ottawa

After getting through the first rapid, what would come next was incredible.  We passed through a second smaller rapid and then saw a few people on the other rafts pointing.  We came around the bend and saw two majestic eagles. One was perched on a rocky outcrop while the other was further back in a tree.  The closest bird was only about fifteen metres or so from our raft. It is the closest I have ever felt to being in a wilderness documentary.  After about a minute, the bird flew off leaving all of us with our jaws still in the water.

It was hard to top what we had just seen but the rest of the day was amazing as well.  At a calm point along the river, everyone had a chance to get out of the raft and go for a relaxing swim.  

Swimming in the rapids

After cooling down, we were back inside the raft heading to our next big thrill. We took the Butterfly rapid at full tilt offering up a lot of excitement. Next, we headed to an area of the rapid called Caterpillar Hole where it was possible to position the raft as if we were surfing. This was David’s favourite part of the entire trip. He loved having the waves crashing into him as the guide expertly managed our raft. I was happy I was on the side furthest from the waves only getting mildly drenched.  

Before lunch, participants also had a chance to get out of the raft and take one of the rapids on their back.  I am not the strongest swimmer in the world so passed but it looked like everyone was having a good time.

Once all the raft and body surfing was done,  it was time for lunch. We landed on shore at the scenic Garvin’s Chute with huge appetites.  I’ll be honest, I was expecting perhaps warmed over hot dogs or floppy burgers as we were in the middle of the wilderness.  Instead, we got super tasty sausages and chicken burgers. It was as good as anything you would get in a restaurant.

With our hunger satisfied, it was time for the final leg of our journey.  We took a couple more smaller rapids. My family and the other people in our raft playfully teased me as I dropped down to the safety position for each rapid.  

We wrapped up the day by landing our raft on shore and being offered  a glass of water, mango juice, lemonade or craft beer which was brewed at the nearby Whitewater Brewing Company.

It was time to get back on the bus and head back to the headquarters.  Everyone looked exhausted but happy from an exhilarating day on the river.   

I would highly recommend the family rafting tour for almost any age.  There were certainly a few thrills but the guides were very safety conscious and kept us in good shape.  The day was also seamlessly organized. We never had to wait for the bus, lunch, etc. It was obvious they have been doing these tours for a long time and also know what they are doing.  

For more information, visit www.wildernesstours.com

Wilderness Tours rafts

Ottawa Museums: Why I love our Ingenium Membership

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One of the things about big days out doing fun activities is that I find them kind of exhausting. You pay a bunch of money to get your family into a museum or attraction and then you want to stay as long as possible and get the most out of your money because "money doesn't grow on trees" and all that fun stuff :)

One of the reasons we got an Ingenium membership (a membership that let's us into the Science and Tech Museum, the Aviation Museum and the Canada Agriculture and Food Museum) was that 1) it was a good deal - we've more than gotten the value out of the membership in a few months already 2) it took the pressure out of our trips to the museums.

Short and fun outings

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When I want to go out with the kids and do something fun I like to suggest one of the museums because I know it won't cost us anything (we got the parking pass as part of our membership too!) and I know there will be fun activities for the kids, and I know I'll plan to leave before they even have a chance to start fraying my nerves or getting bored ;)

We typically visit one of the museums for about an hour to an hour and a half. We get in, the kids explore, if there are presentations we visit a couple, and then we leave.

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It's beautiful. Nobody has gotten overtired or started complaining about not wanting to do this or that. I don't feel guilty that we haven't gotten more out of the money we spent to get in. We're spreading out our enjoyment of the museums over the year. 

The museum also has a reciprocal agreement with 360 other museums, which means you can spread the value out all over the place. 

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Cost

It was about $160 for the year with parking for my family of 5. As a comparison, it would cost me $42 plus parking to get in to the Aviation museum without the membership and $50 plus parking for Science and Tech. It's a pretty simple decision to opt for the pass when all the museums are so close by.

Other bonuses

We got a discount and first access to summer camps (my kids are heading to City Farm camp this summer and are so excited to get to interact with the animals in a more personal way than you get to as a regular visitor!) and first invites to other special events, and 10% off in the cafeteria and in the gift shops.

And look at how much fun we've been having!!

Sing Along with Sharon & Bram (and Friends) at the NAC!

My daughter knows Sharon & Bram through me. She constantly hears me breaking out into “One elephant went out to play, upon a spider's web one day!” As well as singing the words (and doing the actions) to I Am Slowly Going Crazy and Skinnamarink. So, when I heard Sharon & Bram were coming to the NAC Southam Hall on Sunday, September 23, 2018 at 2 pm I got so excited!

These Canadian treasures will be celebrating their 40th anniversary with this special show and will be joined on stage by a full band! This show is a great opportunity for all fans of Sharon & Bram to see them live and celebrate their anniversary through the songs we all know and love.

Sharon and Bram

If you are unfamiliar with Sharon & Bram, here’s a bit of background: Since 1978, Sharon Hampson and Bram Morrison have been pre-eminent in all aspects of family entertainment across North America as members of the trio “Sharon, Lois & Bram”. Together, the threesome produced over twenty recordings, beginning with their iconic One Elephant, Deux Elephants. They have appeared in every major concert hall in Canada, and many United States including Carnegie Hall, The Lincoln Center and the White House in Washington. They have received countless awards, including Gold and Platinum Records and JUNO awards for Best Children’s Album. To date, they have sold over 3 Million Albums worldwide.

For their years of work providing the best in participatory music for children and their families, Sharon and Bram have been inducted into The Order of Canada, the highest honour in the country. 

You don’t want to miss out on this concert. Tickets start at a very affordable $29.50 and watching Sharon & Bram (and friends) with your kids is something the entire family will enjoy and will not soon forget!

For more information and to get your tickets, visit NAC Event Page - https://nac-cna.ca/en/event/18672

Make sure to follow Sharon & Bram online for the latest news and information about these beloved children’s entertainers:
Web - http://www.sharonandbram.com/
FB – https://www.facebook.com/sharonandbram   

Disclaimer: This post is sponsored by the National Arts Centre.

The Art of the Brick at the Canada Science and Technology Museum

We all grew up with LEGO® and our kids are doing the same. Which means the both the kids and the kid in you are going to love the Canada Science and Technology Museum’s brick-buster exhibition, THE ART OF THE BRICK.   

Named one of CNN's Top Ten "Global Must-See Exhibitions", THE ART OF THE BRICK by artist Nathan Sawaya is a critically acclaimed collection of inspiring artworks made exclusively from one of the most recognizable toys in the world: the LEGO® brick.

It is literally the world’s largest display of LEGO® art, with original pieces including an immense Tyrannosaurus Rex and re-imagined versions of the world’s most famous art masterpieces, including Van Gogh’s Starry Night and Da Vinci’s Mona Lisa. 

The exhibit features a gallery showcasing an innovative, multimedia collection of LEGO brick infused photography produced in tandem with award-winning photographer Dean West and kid-friendly, hands-on LEGO® fun at the Brick-Party.

From child's toy to sophisticated art form and beyond! ART OF THE BRICK is on now through September 3 at the Canada Science and Technology Museum. For more information visit 

Disclaimer: This post is sponsored by the Canada Science and Technology Museum (one of our favourite Ottawa museums!)

Pool games just got sweeter with the Watermelon Ball JR!

We have had a great summer to spend time in a pool. It’s been hot and mainly dry, which means my daughter and many of her neighbourhood friends are water logged from spending so much time in the pool! We love having fun and safe water toys for the kids (and adults) to play with in the pool. Some of our favourite pool toys include:

1) Smart Noodles® Link’Ems™

Smart Noodles® Link’Ems™ are just like real pool noodles but you can link them together to create mini rafts and fun objects. If your kids love to use their imaginations, they will create tons of fun things for these smart noodles – we have seen mini cars on ours, as well as frogs using them as safety rafts until they get close enough to the side of the pool to escape. And, of course, they are handy to hold onto to just float around the pool.

Smart Noodles Link’Ems

2) Inflatable Flamingo

Who doesn’t love a good old fashioned floaty toy - but made more fun? Admittedly, this inflatable flamingo belongs to me. I bought it three summers ago at Tag Along Toys and unlike some of the discount store brands, this one is made from durable plastic that has survived many kids twisting its neck as they try to climb on. My pool time always includes my flamingo!

Inflatable Flamingo

3) Pool Toypedos

Toypedos move super fast underwater and then they sink. It’s the perfect "sinky toy" for advanced simmers who love the challenge of swimming fast to catch things before they sink. You can get them at many local toy stores.

Toypedo

4) Original Watermelon Ball®

This ball looks, feels and behaves like a watermelon in water. Really! We tested it last summer and a real watermelon sinks to the bottom and then floats back up to the surface just like this ball (I don't recommend trying it at home). The Watermelon Ball® is simply safer, cleaner and a lot more fun to play with. You simply fill the ball with water and you’re ready to go! We love playing underwater pass with the ball (it travels super fast under water). It is heavy though, so we have a “no throwing it up in the air” policy to avoid it accidentally coming down on someone’s head.

Watermelon ball

5) Watermelon Ball JR®

Warning - you and everyone who plays with this will love this pool toy!!! Just like the original, but easier for little hands to hold, the Watermelon Ball JR® is new this year and is smaller and lighter. It is also much more colourful, making it easier to spot in the water. My daughter and her friends love dribbling, kicking, passing and intercepting the ball under water. This is by far one of her new favourite toys to play with in the pool. It is also very durable, which comes in handy when someone accidentally tosses it out of the pool and onto concrete.

Similar to the original, you simply fill the ball with water and it’s ready for play! As noted on their website, you can pass the Watermelon Ball Jr.® “up to 10 feet underwater and even bounce the Watermelon Ball JR off pool walls for trick passes and winning moves!” It’s a water toy the entire family will love year after year (recommended age is 6+)!

We love playing underwater soccer with the Watermelon Ball JR® - we section off "goal nets" using whatever is near by that can easily sit on the concrete around the pool and the opponent has to try and get the ball past the goalie. Our rules include - no above water passes and we make an "invisible line" that the person with the ball cannot pass. It's a lot of fun for swimmers of all ages and abilities. It's a lot of fun (and a good workout too). ;)

Watermelon Ball JR
Playing with the Watermelon Ball JR

 


For more information on the Watermelon Ball JR, including where to get one, visit the PlaSmart website, follow PlaSmart toys on Twitter or like their Facebook Page!

Disclaimer: PlaSmart provided us with a Watermelon Ball JR® for the purpose of review, but the countless hours of fun are all ours!