The Expeditioners Series: Life is Calling | Presented by Discovery & Jeep Canada

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The Expeditioners partner with Discovery and Jeep Canada for Life is Calling

It’s been an incredible summer exploring so many of Canada’s hidden gems. From coast to coast we surf, climbed, hiked, biked, and even kitesurfed. We hope you caught the series at www.discovery.ca/lifeiscalling

We took an awesome Jeep to each adventure- overcoming some incredibly rugged terrain– and now you have the chance to win your very own Jeep Cherokee or Jeep Renegade. Enter now at www.jeep.ca

TURKS & CAICOS | THE EXPEDITIONERS | DESTINATIONS | Travel Guide to the World

TURKS & CAICOS | THE EXPEDITIONERS | DESTINATIONS | Travel Guide to the World
By. The Expeditioners Roberto
Photos and videos by Roberto & Bella
WHERE: Long Bay, TCI, Caribbean, Americas

WHEN WE WENT: Bella and I have been there in August, December, January, February.

WHAT WE DID: Kiteboard. Kiteboard. Kayaking. Scuba Diving. Kiteboarding.

WHERE WE STAYED: Providenciales is known to be pricey. On the affordable side you have The Carribean Paradise Inn. This 20 suite inn, is minutes from the beach and run by one of the most amicable staffs I have every met. It’s private, secluded. And perfect for scuba divers and Kiteboarders alike. Being nearby to Long Bay Beach is a major plus! On the higher spectrum are the magnificent villas spotted all over the island and offered by Tranquility Vacation Rentals Turks & Caicos. Ideal for the honeymooner or the family, these abodes will leave you breathless. Just take a look at the pictures below!

Caribbean Paradise Inn: http://caribbeanparadiseinn.com/
Tranquility Vacation Rentals: http://www.turkscaicosluxuryvillas.com/

OTHER THINGS TO DO:
1. Scuba Diving with Big Blue Unlimited
2. Kiteboarding with Kite Provo
3. Conch Festival
4. Sea-Kayaking Island Hopping Adventure with Big Blue Unlimited
5. Romantic boat ride to see the glow worms.
6. Wake-Boarding
7. Deep-Sea Fishing with Talbot’s Adventures.
8. Fine -Dining at Baci’s
9. Hobie-Cat Sailing
10. Island Hopping
11. For those so inclined..there’s even a golf course.

HOW TO GET HERE: Fly. Lots of major airlines have direct flights here from places like New York and Toronto. If you search well-enough, you can find round-trip tickets for $500 taxes included.

Having tried a vast variety of sports, it’s not often that I come along one that I had never done before. I ski, snowboard, skate, surf, dive, rock-climb, mountain-bike, run, etc etc. I’ve even gone curling. But that’s excusable only because I’m Canadian.

A few years back, my brother told me that I should try kiteboarding. I had heard of some guy that went flying into a building and remembered it had been nasty. So I gave it little thought.

Then last year, while on my one-month honeymoon to Turks & Caicos with Bella, we got a 1hr intro class into the sport by Kite Provo’s Mike. It was gusty as he took out a 12 meter kite on a deserted beach. We thought we would give it a try. After taking us through safety, we waded into the water.

On my first attempt I was up…if only for some 30 meters before lunging into a uncontrolled rag-doll leap of some fort feet, elegantly face-planting into TCI’s emerald water. I stood-up, a tad- wobbly, grinning from ear-to-ear while still clearing my nostrils from their salt washing.

Fast-forward a year, and Bella and I are in Vancouver’s Northshore Board Store getting kites, harnesses, and boards before embarking on an adventure to Turks and Caicos– to learn to kiteboard. We heard that one of the best places to learn in the world, was indeed Long Bay Beach, on Turks and Caicos’s Providenciales.

On-Shore winds. Shallow water. Sandy bottom. Warm water. And a long long beach.

Learning to kite came with an excitement I hadn’t had in a very long time. The excitement of learning a new sport. And Long Bay Beach was the perfect place to learn. I can now jump 40′ in the air, and Bella can do some really rad riding. Stay tuned as we take this sport everywhere in the world.

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Our First Vehicle-Associated Sponsor: HGregoire – Canada’s Centre D’Auto / Auto Center

The Truck

It was a couple of years ago, and Bella and I were in the market for a new truck. The four cars I had ever had were: Nissan Pathfinder, Pathfinder, Pathfinder…and you guessed it, another Pathfinder. All LE Models. And we were looking for The Expeditioners next…you guessed it, Pathfinder LE.

Now, you’re probably thinking, why would The Expeditioners need an LE? As indeed, LE stands for Luxury Edition. For one, we need the leather seats. Have you ever spilled a coffee on a fabric seat? How about a cup of water? Maybe some sand? A little mud? Some snow? Lots of snow? Rain got in? Or your friend spilled his soda and fries? Oil from your bike chain? How about some salt from your winter boots and ski boots? Water from your wet folding kayak spilled everywhere? Oh, your neoprene suits didn’t fully dry before throwing them in the back seat? How about the post camping food-bin…did the maple syrup leak out?

With fabric seats, the liquids will seep into your seat and rot the interior, the salt will leave white stains, the oil from your chain will never come off, the ketchup will be a constant yucky reminder of your buddy, the maple syrup will make everything gross and sticky, and the seats will take a smell reminiscent of a locker-room’s wet towels bin. But with leather seats– if you frequently clean your car, or wipe the ketchup stain of the seat, sop-up the water, or clean the coffee right away– then those little accidents don’t get immortalized. So there’s my argument for leather seats.

Hood

Secondly, is the sound system:) We spend many many many hours on the road. Expedition Canada alone involves over 6500km of driving… one way! And we loooooove our tunes. The Pathfinder LE has a Bose sound system. Looking out the window at mirrored lakes, sun breaking through puffy clouds, your best friend and lover sitting next to you, and the right song on… is just simply superb.

Truck afficionados know that certain 4x4s will just live longer. Many making it up into the half-million km mark. The Pathfinder is such a truck–and it has the power to pull/carry the heavy loads our adventures require. I parted with the last four around the quarter-million kilometer mark.

Now, the small conundrum is the fact that it is an expensive truck.

It’s common knowledge that the moment you drive a brand new vehicle off of the dealer’s lot, you are literally losing 30% of the original value of the car.

This is why, we never buy new, but instead previously owned. With about 70 000km on such a truck, you can literally get it for less than half the price from new. The trick, though, lies in finding the deal.

Bella and I had called every Nissan dealership in Ontario and Quebec, but nobody had what we were looking for in the price range we were looking for. I was getting stressed at not finding something–for in a few weeks, we would be heading off back-country skiing to Gaspesie, Quebec and we were going to be filming for CBC (Canadian Broadcasting Corporation.)

HGregoire

We had driven by the giant HGregoire Mega Auto Center on Autoroute 25 in Saint-Eustache, Quebec many times, but had never given it consideration, as indeed, all the previous trucks had been bought through Nissan dealerships. We thought we’d give it a check online first.

We found exactly what we were looking for! A 2007 Slate-Grey Nissan Pathfinder LE with 95 000km. Except there was no pictures…and we were leaving on a trip in a couple of days. Rushing over to the mega auto center, we perused a ton of vehicles (it was amazing the variety they had), but couldn’t see the Pathfinder we had “seen” online.

We were cordially greeted by a super jovial fellow and sales agent named Stephane Pare– to whom we anxiously inquired about the Pathfinder with no photos…and nowhere in the showroom.

“Let me check it out,” he said, and tapped away into his system.

“This one is so fresh it arrives tomorrow morning. That’s why the photos haven’t even been taken. We could have it cleaned and ready for a test drive tomorrow afternoon.”

That’s what I call efficiency! At 1pm the next day we were test driving it.Then we negotiated a little–and added HGregoire’s Premium 3 year or 70 000km warranty so that we would have no worries whatsoever. And then we bought it.

The Pathfinder

In less than 24 hours of having researched HGregoire’s immense inventory (they have numerous Megacenters) we had found our truck, test drove it, and purchased it.

And it was a great deal!

When we picked it up, we had the brief opportunity to meet HGrgoire’s Marketing and Media Head– Michelle Therrien. A very kind and sharp lady that took an interest to our concept. I told bella as we left the lot– “Maybe they’ll sponsor us one day!”

We hopped in our new truck and headed off to pick-up our friends for our Gaspesie trip and then our Pathfinder took as all over Eastern Canada.

Expeds Bella

Canoe Camping

Fast-forward a couple of years to a few weeks ago, and we approach Michelle Therrien about possibly having HGregoire be a sponsor for Expedition Canada.

We had a fantastic conversation on the phone. We talked about our truck and our travels. Michelle had been following our galavanting around the globe since we bought the truck and happily said they would love to sponsor us–and take the major logo placement on The Expeditioners Truck.

I put the phone down, and turned to Bella and said: “Do you remember what I told you when we left the parking lot when we first bought the truck?”

Sometimes, you’ve got to just believe!

Thank you very very much to HGregoire’s team and Michelle Therrien for believing in us!

You can follow our epic journey across Canada via our Facebook Page, Website and Twitter. Make sure to look for the hashtag #ExpeditionCanada and if you’re looking for a great deal on a pre-owned vehicle in Canada, well you know where to go!

www.hgregoire.com

H Gregoire Website

On the road

Diving Africa Part 4/10

predive

Concrete stairs lead down to the water where our boat was moored. A jovial Senegalese local played a rythmic beat on his tam-tam– luring us to our boat like the Pied Piper. It was an early afternoon dive, and so would be a 1-tank dive. Located only a few kilometers from shore, the Madeleine Islands sit a quick boat ride away from Dakar’s coastline. Mamadou (our dive master) kept the tap of jokes flowing as our little skiff made it’s way amongst fishing boats to the islands. A couple from France were delighted to get reacquainted with our dive-master–as they had dove with him 20 years earlier.

Anchor

The water temp hovered around 16 degrees Celcius. I donned my 3/2 Oceanic Pioneer wetsuit, and added an extra layer of Lavacore to keep from getting chilled– Bella did likewise. I hesitated with donning a hoodie, but after plunging my hand into the water realized it was a must to wear.

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Before we knew it we were already at the island. The boatman dropped anchor. We prepped our cameras, and back-flipped into the frigid waters of the North Atlantic Ocean.

Manta Dive Watch

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The water was murky and green. And the current was strong. We dove along the submerged part of of the island– spotting sea-slugs and little rays. Visibility was less than 10′. We dove down to 60′ where it was a little clearer– hoping there would be less current. Yet there just seemed to be more. Bella and I glanced at each other and made the signal to head-back.

We’ve learned not to push ourselves too much on a dive in questionable conditions. For indeed, there is always the next dive.

Quick Tip: The Aeris Jetpack is a WING BC with integrated weights– giving you great mobility and freedom on your dive. Use the detachable bag on your dive boat to keep the stuff you don;t need for your dive: sunglasses, sunscreen, micro-towel, Dfog, etc..

Gear Guide:
Aeris Jetpack BC’s
Aeris Ion AT600 First Stage & ION LT Second Stage
Aeris Manta Dive Watch
Aeris Velocity Fins (Bella)
Aeris Accel Fins (Roberto)
Aeris Ai300 Computers
Oceanic Pioneer Wetsuit
Oceanic Pioneer Mask
Lavacore Pants & Short Sleeve Shirts
Ikelite Camera Housing w/ Pro-2800 LED Video Lights
Ikelite Coolpix Camera Housing

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Diving Africa Part 3/10

DIVING AFRICA
Post 3/10

The streets of Dakar, Senegal were hustling and bustling when we arrived. Vendors hawked their wares. Cars honked without purpose, and people filled every empty space. Not exactly the backdrop I imagined for scuba-diving, but hey..you never know.

The dive shop–named Oceanium was easy enough to find, and was located around an open bar/cafe area, overlooking the Atlantic. We got introduced to our dive-master Mamadou- a tall fellow with a ready smile- who marveled at the quantity of gear that we pulled out of our Jetpacks.

Conversation flowed and we got to spend some time explaining our kit to him and sipped some coffee that would wake-up a 12 year old dead horse. The vibe was like that of most dive-shops, relaxed–but ebbing with an excitement… an excitement to dive.

We detached our bags from the BC’s and prepped-our kit for what was to be our first dive in Africa.

Gear Guide: AERIS Jetpack BC is adjustable to all sizes. From the back, to the shoulder straps to the waist strap–it all adjusts. I’m 6’1 and Bella is 5’4. And the Jetpack fits us both. It was nice not to have to rummage through my checked-luggage for dive gear. Everything was snug in my Jetpack bag section…even my Accel fins!

Find part 1 and 2 at www.theexpeditioners.com

Sponsored by Aeris, Oceanic Worldwide, Lavacore Int’l, Ikelite Underwater Systems

Attaching Jetpack

The Engines

Dive day

Bella Canoe Campsite Review

The province of Quebec is a mecca for canoe-campers. It’s simple, la belle province has over 1 million lakes. And that makes for a lot of canoe routes. There are two types of areas ideal for some paddling multi-night detachment. You’ve got Provincial Parks and Faunique Reserves. Both are fantastic.

For Canoe-Camping within a decent range from Montreal (2-4 hours), I suggest: La Verendrye Faunique Reserve, Papineau-Labelle Faunique Reserve and Mont-Tremblant Provincial Park.

Each lake has a campsite or campsites–that’s relative to the size of the lake. Most sites are not within shouting distance/ what I love most, not even visible from the next site. Truth be told, the deeper you get into the reserve or park, the less likely someone is to have one of the other sites anyways.

The wilderness campsites are marked by a tent symbol and a canoe in a yellow triangle. The fact that the signs are reflective makes them easy to spot from a distance in low or no light by simply turning your head-light on. The sites have a fire pit, a few tent sites, a loo that consists of a up-turned bucket with a hole or a proper outhouse with a white seat and sometimes a grill– and of course, as they are for canoe campers, are only accessible by water.

The cost of these campsites is included in your daily park fee– about $9 per person, per day.

Here is a campsite review by Bella of what a typical campsite looks like.

Sponsored by Scott & Bluewater Canoes
www.scottcanoe.com & www.bluewatercanoes.com

Diving Africa Part 2/10

The Expeditioners
DIVING AFRICA
Post 2/10

By visiting different countries (Senegal, Mozambique, South Africa) on Expedition Africa–we really got to tell the difference between cultures. Each country was so clearly distinct from the other– which was fascinating! Likewise, our diving experiences were extremely different in each country. But that’s to be expected from destinations so far apart from each other.

From Dakar, Senegal to Gansbaai, South Africa it is about 6800kms– and from Gansbaai to Vilanculos about 2000kms as the crow flies. We were hoping to get the Sardine Run as well, but alas, it just wouldn’t fit into our scheduling.

Senegal was out first testing ground for our new gear. We were happy that we didn’t have to fidget with the equipment, as dive was challenging to say the least.

When we decided to go to Africa, we knew that a trip to the continent wouldn’t be complete without diving with great white sharks– and so we booked with Sharklady Adventures. Little did we know how up close and personal we would get to be with them!

Our principle reason for choosing Mozambique as a dive destination was in the hopes of seeing Whale Sharks, as Tofo and Vilankulo are known for their sightings. But nature beats her own drum, and from what I understand, those sightings of the gentle giant have become more and more rare. Still, we got to spend some quality time with a giant grouper!

Dive Gear Tip: Taking your AERIS Jetpack as your carry-on is a fantastic solution for flying with your dive kit. But what happens when your plane is a little itsy-bitsy plane who’s overhead compartments are half the size of regular planes? Simple, once you are on the plane and stowing your bag un-clip your BC from the bag section of the Jetpack (making it half the size,) and stow the two sections separately in the overhead, OR put one section in the overhead and the other under the seat in front of you.