A DAD ABROAD — It’s a Ford. #FordSummer. (Checking out Ford Canada’s SUVs in Muskoka!)

If I learned anything from a recent trip to the Muskokas, it’s that Ford is great at making SUVs!

It's a Ford. #FordSummer. (Checking out the Ford Canada SUV Line in Muskoka!) — The Ford Escape
The 2017 Ford Edge in full effect!

Sure, the Sport/Suburban Utility Vehicle might not be everyone’s first choice when shopping for a new ride, but if they’re not, they are missing out! SUVs are growing in popularity worldwide as drivers seek more flexibility and utility from their vehicles, no longer content with options that do the bare minimum. We don’t just want to get from A to B anymore—we’re doing it with our groceries. Our furniture. Our ski gear. And our babies. We need vehicles that grow with us—not ones left behind as our circumstances change.

And perhaps that’s why SUVs stand as the top-selling vehicle segment in Canada and the US—heck; Ford sold 1.7 million of them in 2016 alone! As the #1 SUV brand for seven years running (with an eighth hot on their heels), I’d say Ford knows what it’s doing—which is why they’re introducing five new SUVs by 2020, including the Ford EcoScport compact utility and the all-new Ford Expedition! With Ford’s global SUV sales growing a staggering 80% these past five years, ain’t no stoppin’ ’em now!

It's a Ford. #FordSummer. (Checking out the Ford Canada SUV Line in Muskoka!) — Casey Palmer Chillin' in a Muskoka ChairBut that’s only part of the story—I could go blue in the face telling you about the thousands of features that go into making Ford’s SUVs top-notch, but you don’t want stuff you could lift from a spec sheet… you want to see how they work in the real world.

And that’s exactly what Ford Canada challenged us to discover this past summer!

The Life and Times of Casey Palmer — Dear February: Goodbye and Good RIDDANCE.

Sorry, I can't go to work tomorrow I fractured my motivation.
Thanks, Li, for sending this one my way!

Dear February,

You were a real pain in the rear, you know that? With temperatures plunging into the negative 30s, the blogosphere in a quiet lull as the influencers hibernate, and motivation at a standstill as the deadly winter saps the life from everyone it touches, you’re only four weeks long, but easily one of the hardest months to endure.

January was so promising, too — I hit up the 2015 IIHF World Junior Championship with TELUS and learned much about my nation’s love for hockey; relaxed as I segued into a trip to Cuba that temporarily got my mind right enough to write Dat Varadero, Doe, written after some much-needed reflection and change of pace from my hectic life here in Toronto; and felt like a new me after shedding the skin of a 2014 Casey Palmer who very much felt like he’d sold a bit of his soul for a taste of success. If you sat down for a chat with January 31st Casey Palmer, you’d be talking to a guy full of hope, confident the year ahead would bring amazing things, and all he needed to do was put pen to paper and keep doing all the things he was doing.

That changed all too quickly when Toronto was hit by a storm bad enough to cripple the city for a day, setting the tone for a winter with no one all that enthusiastic to deal with it.

DO ALL THE THINGS: Three Days in Detroit for Some #FordNAIAS Fun!

I haven’t been out to the Detroit-Windsor corridor since late 2008, when my brother-in-law got married there and only 9 months into dating, Sarah led me into an ambush, seating me at a table with many of her paternal uncles and cousins who I’d meet for the very first time. (Quite the feat to make a good impression while hungover, but that, my friends, is a story for another time!)

Ford Social — Badges — Ford Edge
Proud to drive an Edge!

But Ford Canada’s been really good to me these past couple of years. From inviting me to their second annual Blue Party to sending a care package when I bought my 2011 Ford Edge last summer, they’ve been a solid team to work with.

This year, they kicked it up a notch by invited me as one of a dozen Canadian bloggers as their guest at Putting You In The Driver’s Seat: the NAIAS Blogger Experience, which revolved around the 2014 North American International Auto Show in Detroit, Michigan.

Partying Up Rain or Shine (or Snowmageddon) — The Ford Blue Party

Even though Maverick PR’s #OpenEnvelope-inspiring tweet likely got some would-be attendees to stay in and out of the cold of Snowmageddon, if there’s one thing that I’ve learned about Ford Canada, it’s this — they definitely know how to throw an event!

How far will you go to party?

Though many weren’t willing to brave Snowmageddon to attend “another social media event”, I’ll be one to tell them that they missed out! It was a testament to tenacity on Friday, February 8th, as a number of us made it out to Ford Canada’s Blue Party! Held at the Sound Academy on the south end of Toronto, the Blue Party was all about bringing a number of Toronto bloggers together to see the unveiling of the 2014 Ford Fiesta, a fuel-efficient hatchback with a slick look to it!

A screenshot of a mysterious Facebook message I received.
I’ll admit, I didn’t know what it was for, but since I knew the guy, I figured it wouldn’t be for spam!

Not one to waste time questioning messages from people I know, I sent it along, not knowing what would come next.

What did come next was this —

I was fortunate enough to get a ride there with my friend Christine, but even if you weren’t driving in, Ford even hooked it up with a shuttle service to the venue:

What Makes a Party a Party?

With one of the most painless check-in processes I’d ever seen, we got our badges, checked out coats, posed for pictures — and got greeted by members of the Ford Canada team and glasses of the Blue Grand Margarita (the event’s dangerously addictive drink of choice) as soon as we got in the door!

No matter where you looked, there was something you could do:

Catch up With Friends

It was good hanging with Christine again, and catching up with the likes of Alexa and Zach with many other friends in the house 🙂

Gaming and Leisure

One corner held games and grooming, with a foosball table, two games offering head-to-head racing competition, and stations for manicures, makeover and massages (oh my!)

Boys and their Toys

Ford displayed choice cars all over the floor, with detailed specs for each so you could understand what you could come to expect by being a Ford owner:

Gotta Eat and Run

The food — oh my goodness, I don’t know who they got to cater this, but the food was delicious. I had Justin jealous with the livetweeting of everything I was cramming down my throat, and he’s lucky that there was so much sensory overload going on all night, or there would’ve been plenty more:

An excuse to rock an outfit

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@wedding_crasher and @doomzto at the #FordBlueTO

A post shared by Ford Canada (@fordcanada) on

It’s been a while since I’ve done a Battle of the Bands, so the sequined vest sat in the closet, waiting to come out and play. The Ford Blue Party was the perfect opportunity to do so, and I think it worked out quite well!

Music and Entertainment

The dance moves of the Mayhem Dance Group and Kiss 92.5’s DJ Clymaxxx on the 1s and 2s made sure that this party was happening.

When I win, TeamTrolling wins

One of the unexpected twists of the night was winning a pair of wicked tickets to a Toronto Raptors game — all for dancing; something I would’ve done anyway. It’s like I say: there’s no reward for the timid. Life isn’t going to hook you up for standing on the wall and trying to look “cool” — get in there and show the world what you’ve got! With that said, thank you Ford Canada for the tickets — Justin and I had a great time — but more on that later!!!

In case you need context for just how awesome these seats were, check this out to see Section 108, Row 14:

Air Canada Centre Seating Chart for a Toronto Raptors Game

(SO GOOD.)

And of course, the 2014 Ford Fiesta

With Ford doing such a great job at engaging existing car lovers as well as trying to find new demographics, it’s great that the car looks as good as it does! With Sarah and I looking to buy a car in 2013, Ford’s made itself a contender, and I’ll be happy to spread the message of all they’re doing to adapt to an ever-changing world of social engagement. It’s good that there was a message behind all the lights and glamour, though…

The Overall Messages

The Ford Canada team made sure that we wouldn’t be drinking and driving, offering shuttle rides home to anyone in need, and making sure that everyone knew their limit. On top of that, we weren’t beholden to write anything, but from what I’ve seen, people are sharing the message because they had a great time. Of course, when a party is invite-only, it has its share of haters, as seen in the screen cap below:

A screenshot from the Ford Canada Facebook page of people hating on the Ford Blue Party
With haters, you’ve gotta take the venom in stride…

To the haters, here’s a message — you receive from social media what you put in to it. I mean this on two fronts — put negativity and snide remarks in, you’re going to get the same back. People generally extend a hand to those who they can respect and build relationships with. Why would you want to keep someone around who’s just bringing negative attitude and poisonous words to the table? Also, if you think you should be entitled to attend an event because you’ve already invested in the group holding it, prove your worth. Write blogs about your experiences. Make videos of other friends giving products a try. Shouting at the top of the mountain that you’ve been overlooked or wronged only makes you look like a complainer, which  brings us right back to the negative energy point. Be part of the solution, not the problem.

All in all, I’m happy that Ford Canada invited me to 2013’s Blue Party, and I hope it sets the tone for the rest of the year’s events!

How did YOU guys spend Snowmageddon?

Thanks for reading, guys!

–case p.