Not seventy-two hours after arriving home from Ottawa last week, Bones and I re-packed our bags and headed to Waterloo for five days of volleyball.
Bones has played with the Bedford Blizzards for the last four years so the moms on the team have turned into friends and really…it was sort of like going away for a bit of “girl time” with our daughters, one Dad and a coach!
On arrival, we hit the sack for an early morning breakfast followed by a trip to the mall for the kids and their “drivers.” I’d planned to work for the day at the hotel, but first, myself and my “bestie volleyball mom,” Tracy, headed to the famous St. Jacob’s Market (directly across from our hotel) to grab a few snacks for the kids for the week.
Until that moment, we had NO IDEA what this market was about and were truly treated to an amazing surprise as the St. Jacobs Market is the largest farmers market in Canada…open year round (on Thursday, Saturdays…and Tuesdays through the Summer months). The market is filled with artisans, antiques, exotic foods, jewellery, clothing, fruits and veggies straight from the local farms…essentially, everything you can imagine.
Along with the fruits and veggies we picked up for the duration of our trip…we both purchased beautiful Pavlo Pottery. I picked up these fantastic “Garden Wine Cups” and “Condiment Bowl” which is a perfect addition to my outside sitting area!
As well, we spent a great amount of time perusing the fabulous displays and reminiscing among the vintage items in Bygone Reflections…where I purchased this wonderful children’s book from 1952 to send to The Tall Blonde as a thank you for our trip to Ottawa last week that included a private tour of parliament. The book itself is filled with stories she’ll get a charge out of…many of the which she’d told us about on our tour.
AND, due to the great amount of crackers he had us dip in every single sample along with his exuberant attitude…we each picked up a few dips from Siggy at Cinnamon Hill Farms. BUT, as Siggy pointed out, they aren’t just dips! He gave us a recipe card for FIFTY ways to use the mixes (they really are delicious…and you can buy them online!)
By the time we headed back to the hotel, I managed to fit in a few hours of work before we ordered up a bit of supper, enjoyed a few drinks with our parent group and settled in for an early morning.
The facilities at the RIM Park were really quite exceptional. There were multiple courts with games going on at the same time as there were three divisions of volleyball each with multiple tiers for the girls, and one division for the boys (and that was just for the U16 weekend!)
We started in our placement in Division One Tier One…settling in for a day of rather strong competition that we don’t see very often in our home tournaments! Suffice it to say, while I thought the girls played great and even had moments of brilliance…we walked away from the day “O” and 3!
The afternoon had the girls running off a little energy as they played a couple of games of tag and relaxed in the hotel’s gardens. That evening, we headed to Jack’s Family Restaurant, directly next to the hotel, where the food was tasty, the service was great, the portions were MASSIVE and the company was fantastic.
Following our meal, we headed across the street to the Olde Tyme Kettle Kitchen in the St. Jacob’s Outlet Mall, for what would turn out to be some of the best butter tarts that any of us have ever had!
Also… I had no idea that butter tart competitions in Ontario was actually a thing…but I guess it’s a thing!!
The next day had us back at competitions where, once again, the Blizz girls put it all out there but simply couldn’t catch a break.
Between games, I had a chance to check out the beautiful synchronized skating as the facilities at RIM Park are home to Team Canada…a team of amazingly skilled young women who compete (and win) in competitions throughout the world. We stood in awe as they practiced…their bodies moving in unison as they’d glide across the ice…their beautiful forms moving in graceful harmony.
And I’d love to show you more…but this happened.
Anyway…after a day of disappointment, we headed back to the hotel where the girls lazed around much of the afternoon. We enjoyed another meal ordered into the hotel, had a few more drinks into the evening, and headed to bed for another early morning of competition.
By Sunday, we’d dropped down from our initial Division One Tier 1 to Division One Tier Four…in line with many of the other teams from home that we’ve faced before.
It was do or die time as we faced our first game…that turned out to, in fact, be our last. In my humble opinion, had we played like we had the two days prior, we might have been able to move to the next round, but it wasn’t to be. Instead, we ended our season on that final note and headed to another court to cheer on our boys as we watched their season come to an end as well.
We headed back to the hotel…BUT, not before having a team photo taken that will be treasured for years to come!
With two teams a bit defeated…it was time for an adventure. We contacted Conestoga Horseback Adventures and booked an afternoon of Man Tracker…complete with folks on horseback tracking you down.
As stated on their website, the idea was that groups would be divided into teams…those teams would each be given a map and a team colour. Along the route, teams were to collect their coloured flags and if they were caught by the man trackers, they’d have to give up a flag before continuing. The team with the most flags at the end would win. The adventure would take approximately two hours…so us moms dropped them all off, then headed to the pub for a plate of nachos and a refreshing brew!
Man Tracker sounded like the perfect team bonding experience and exactly what we needed to bring us all back together…but I have to say, while the kids (and adults who were adventurous enough to go) seemed to really have a great time running though the woods and rivers trying to get from where they started to the end point…it was a bit disorganized and chaotic.
No one had a map, there were no team colours with flags to collect, teams weren’t picked properly meaning some kids got left out…and, one of our boys got lost! It turned out, it was more of a cross-country race through the woods that didn’t really cost a lot of money so we can’t complain too much…but, with a little organization and not much more effort, it could definitely have been a much better experience. (Side note…we heard of another team that went and they had exactly the experience the website had promised…so it may have just been an off day!)
The worst part…the adventure was over in an hour (not two) and we were called back mid-drink to come and pick them up!
It was back to the hotel to rid themselves of muddy legs and hair full of twigs…as that evening, we went to The Bauer Kitchen for a delicious meal in an absolutely beautiful atmosphere.
Back at the hotel and exhausted from a full day, the kids retired to the rooms to pack their bags so we could get up the next day and spend an exciting day at Canada’s Wonderland!
We managed to fit in five hours on “Opening Weekend” at the park…and did as much as we could before heading to the airport to catch our flights home!
All in all…five days away with my youngest to play volleyball, some tough competition, time spent with friends exploring a place we’d never been, some late night laughs and early morning play…it’s where memories are gained…even when games are lost.