A Splash of Adrenaline: Land
“Work hard, play hard!” This should be the motto of every graduate student. No matter what some PIs might say, achieving a work life balance as a graduate student is close to impossible. So, when you do get that weekend off, you really want to make sure that you enjoy it to the fullest, and you have the energy that will last for another month, if not more. What I found helpful is to have a little adventure, which will give you a “splash of adrenaline”, help you to feel alive again, and allow you to return to your experiments without feeling like you are missing out on life. Previously, I shared with you the adventures that involve water (see A Splash of Adrenaline: Water). This time, we will take a look at the Land adventures: 1) Dirt Bikes and ATV
2) Rock Climbing and Caving Adventure
3) Race tracks and Driving Schools
4) Shooting Range
Dirt Bikes and ATV Dirt Bike and ATV adventures are a fun way to spend the weekend. These activities could be a bit pricy, but they make an excellent birthday present (Just make sure that your friend or second half is ready for an adventure of this kind). Don’t worry if you never rode a motorcycle or don’t know how to drive. I’ve done both and not only came out of it in one piece and with no bruises, but also had a wonderful time (I can’t even drive a car, and I don’t remember the last time that I rode the bicycle). I used Trythat service to book the Dirt Bike adventure. Our session included training, trail ride, and a motocross.
I booked ATV adventure through Back Country ATV tours. It was early November and the weather got cold, so I was a bit worried about what tour to choose. They still recommended that I should go for Extreme Mud adventure, since others may not seem as fun to us (Yeah, I told them about the dirt bikes). I was glad that I chose this tour. It was worth the long drive. We drove through puddles and creeks, and squeezed between narrow forest trails. It was a day to remember! Just make sure to bring rubber rain boots.
Rock Climbing and Caving Adventure
The first time I used Trythat was to book a Caving Adventure. We drove to Collingwood to meet our tour guide. Then, we hiked into the forest and were rappelled down the crevices to explore the caves of Niagara Escarpment. I didn’t expect the pathways to be so small and narrow! We had to crawl on our stomachs most of the time and squeeze between rocks. Despite the weather and snow (it was also in early November), we had a great time!
If Rock Climbing was always something you wanted to do, you should try it out indoors (E.g. in The Rock Oasis). You can rent the equipment there and get your first lesson. When you have the skill and confidence, you can take your hobby outside and explore the parks of Niagara Escarpment (E.g. Rattlesnake Point Conservation Area). Rattlesnake Point is also an excellent place for hiking and picnics. I would recommend visiting it to check out breathtaking lookouts located on the edge of the cliffs.
Race track and Driving School
If driving is your passion, then you should check out the driving schools of Ontario (I am talking about the schools that teach you advanced maneuvers, improve your skill, and teach you how to race on the race track). These schools usually advertise their courses on car forums. If you are a car guy or gal, you are likely to be a member of one (if not, you are missing out!). Keep an eye on HANSON International Advanced Driving School and BMW Club of Canada Advanced Driving School – I’ve heard good comments about these two (I already mentioned that I don’t drive. The streets of Toronto are too extreme for me. I would rather drive on the race track, but nobody is willing to land me their car.)
You don’t have to be a professional racing driver to go and drive on a race track. Different car clubs regularly organize track days. Usually for $100 you can come to a track and practice your skills there for half a day (which is more than enough time). We often go with Subaru club, but there are many others that do it. The race tracks around Toronto are: Toronto Motorsport Park (Cayuga), Mosport International Raceway (Driver Development Track) and Shannonville. It is a great way to get together with friends, catch up and drive around. As a passenger, I enjoy riding in different cars, comparing the skills of different drivers and the adrenaline rush (the cars do spin out and go off track, but usually everything ends well).
If the above activities are too extreme for you, but you enjoy watching racing as a sport, then, perhaps, you should join the crowd of spectators for a Rally of Tall Pines that takes place at the end of every November.
Another interesting activity is to try shooting from different guns. I like outdoors and I don’t find indoor shooting ranges that special. So, this fall I was on the mission to find an outdoor shooting range in Southern Ontario. Believe me, it is much easier to find a range in US where you can shoot without a license and membership and your own gear. Here in Ontario it proved to be a real challenge. We called and emailed different gun clubs and finally we found one: Silverdale Gun Club. We got to shoot the targets with different firearms, and then we shot flying plates with shotguns. It proved to be a perfect gift for my father!
I hope that from this list of activities you can find something that you’d like to try out. Please, keep in mind that that you need to exercise caution to avoid any injuries and incidents.
Back Country ATV tours: http://www.backcountrytours.ca/
Indoor Rock Climbing: http://rockoasis.com/to-home.html
Rattlesnake Point Conservation Area : http://www.hrca.on.ca/ShowCategory.cfm?subCatID=1091
Shooting Range: http://www.silverdalegunclub.com/
Toronto Motorsport Park (Cayuga): http://www.torontomotorsportspark.com/
Rally of Tall Pines: http://www.tallpinesrally.com/
Silvedrale Gun Club: http://www.silverdalegunclub.com/