Happy Thanksgiving?

Happy Thanksgiving! or Columbus Day or Indigenous People’s day! We are in Canada and Thanksgiving and Columbus day are on the same Holiday. It seems really weird for us to hear people wishing other people a Happy Thanksgiving on a Monday, much less in early October! But it was a day to be thankful for after all!

We started our day by visiting Niagara Falls! Our first stop was the behind the falls experience. It was a little unnerving to walk through a tunnel realizing how much water was flowing just feet over your head! But the sights were quiet nice.

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We thought the view from above was even better. This is one of my favorites!

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The Canadians clearly were lucky in that you can see Horseshoe falls as well as the American falls so much better from the Canadian side.


The afternoon was a fun afternoon of wine tasting in the Niagara region. Starting with the Wayne Gretzgy distillery and ending with a very nice pork chop on our grill back at the camp ground. At this point vacation is basically over and we have two days of driving to get back to Decorah. I’m almost sure the adventure is not over yet. So stay tuned for further updates.

Halifax for Jane's big six oh

Halifax has a nice food scene and a pretty boardwalk along the bay. We saw several cruise ships leave and arrive, and got to try a local specialty. A Donair.

A Halifax Donair shares some history with a Gyro, except that they are made from beef and have a special Halifax sauce. Crispy thin sliced beef with a creamy, sweet, garlic sauce with plenty of tomatoes and onions. We split one from a shop on the boardwalk so as not to spoil our appetites for Jane’s birthday dinner.

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The boardwalk was fine, but I wouldn’t say spectacular. We found a nice Irish pub for some drinks, and they had a live band. So it was fun to sit and listen. Not as cool as the ceilidh back on Cape Breton, but still good.

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Birthday dinner was at The Bicycle Thief restaurant. It was a very nice meal, Jane had Seared Atlantic Halibut with brown butter & parmigiano fregola, charred asparagus, vino bianco, roasted sweet tomatoes, lemon & caper beurre blanc. I had Old-School Lobster Thermidor, Whole NS Lobster, wild mushrooms, shallots, Brandy crema, gratinéed with breadcrumbs, gruyère & parmigiano, truffle spaghettini & fresh asparagus. Both were delicious. We had a nice bottle of Chardonnay from Long Meadow Range in Anderson Valley. For desert we split the Creme brulee… slightly warm, with a really crispy crust, in short perfect. Top that off with a little sip of Port or Courvoisier and you have completed a near perfect meal.

Riding the Adventure Trail in Nova Scotia

The plan was to bike about 14 miles to Lunenburg, have some lunch at a brewery, and then bike back to where we parked. Drive back to the camper and make some Peruvian chicken for dinner. That was the plan. It was a beautiful day, It was a beautiful ride, although the trail was a bit soft in a number of places, and in a few it was completely washed out.

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However, 15 miles into the 14 mile ride we called a halt to consult the map. Somewhere along the way we had missed a turn that we didn’t even know to look for. Now we were almost to Bridgewater, quite a distance from Lunenburg.

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What to do now? Trying to make a triangle out of the situation was not a good solution. No trails from here to there, and the distance would have made the ride too long. So, we decide to turn back, maybe stop at a brewery along the way back, and see where to go. Riding along and discussing the options further, we decide to just head back to the truck and then drive from there to Lunenburg. Jane really wanted to see Lunenburg as it is a UNESCO site.

To get there we had to drive through Mahone Bay. What a zoo! We drove into their annual Scarecrow Festival! People everywhere. Cars everywhere. Astronaut scarecrows, firefighter scarecrows, They were everywhere. Kind of funny and clever. One of the few things we didn’t take a picture of, sadly.

Eventually we made it to Lunenburg where we found a good viewpoint to take a photo of the town, with its colorful buildings and tall ships in the harbor.

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Around four O’clock we parked and walked to the Shipwreck Brewery tap room. The smell of pizza was a little overwhelming as we walked in! We hadn’t much to eat, and had just ridden 30 miles. After looking at the menu we decided the chicken could wait! One small pizza and one lobster roll to go with our beers please.

The Table

Last night we had a fabulous dinner experience! On Prince Edward Island there is an old church, that once was a barn, but is now a restaurant. It is open every night for dinner for one seating of around 20 people. Their menu says they are “a love letter to Canadian food and wine.” The menu changes every week, and they don’t repeat, ever, at least not in 8 years.

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All the foods are local, that is they use ingredients from PEI that mostly come from just a few km away. They don’t use any ingredients that are not grown in Canada. So, no lemon, or lime, or black pepper. Instead they make pepper from the flower cluster of the Green Alder, They are super creative and the food was just awesome. One of the highlights of the night was the Halibut. One of their friends/suppliers, a fisherman, showed up on their door a couple of days ago to let them know he had a 50 pound Halibut he had just caught, he thought they might want it. We are glad they did!

The kitchen area is open for everyone to see the small staff working to prepare the next course. And before you eat the course the chef explains what you are getting. Then as you are eating he walks around to answer questions or just chat with every table. They pair each course with a Canadian wine. The result is a 7 course meal that goes from 5:30 - 9pm, a beautiful night of food and drink.

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  1. roasted carrots, marinated carrots, cows’s blue cheese fritters, basil aioli. The blue cheese fritters (Choux batter with blue cheese mixed in) were better than any fried cheese curds I’ve had in my life!

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  1. celery root soup, roasted celery root, pickled mustard seeds, celery.

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  1. french river halibut, clam cream, dill oil potato, chives. SOOOO GOOD. We were imagining the staff milking the clams, but it turns out it is more like homemade clam sauce mixed with cream and then reduced.

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  1. belle river rock crab mezzalunes, charred tomato aioli, cured egg yolk. What? Cured egg yolk salted and dried and then they grate it over the pasta! I’m gonna try it.

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  1. cold water shrimp, our bread, herbs, crispy shallots. The chef described it as a mid meal snack! Yummy.

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  1. braised island short rib, potato puree, market vegetables, ox tail jus. I’ve hated beets for 50 of my 59 years. But I have to admit that these were not bad!

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  1. geoff’s apples, maple granola, mint oil, whipped sweet clover cheesecake. The apples were warm, but still crunchy, and the whipped cheesecake was like a thick whipped cream. A delicious ending.

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Jane’s favorites: The carrots and the Halibut

Brad’s favorites: The Halibut, the carrots were a big surprise and the fritters were just so good. Learning about cured egg yolks.

Taking a Break on a Rainy Afternoon

Bow Lake Reflection

“A clean underwear!” came the shout from the bedroom of the RV. “Thanks Holly, you just provided me with the opening line for today’s blog.” After a morning of touring the sites on the road to Jasper, we are back in the RV, having lost our will to hike in the rain. In the gloom and rain of the day I would say that the Columbia Ice sheet and all of the surrounding glaciers was actually a little depressing. You just can’t help but see how much they have shrunk over the years, and we overheard people talking. “When I was here 20 years ago, this glacier came right up to the road.” Now the glacier in question is a good kilometer back from the road.

So, as we are taking this downtime to shower and cleanup a bit in preparation for our move south tomorrow, I’m taking a few minutes this afternoon to catch up a little. There is only so much you can write about all of this mountain beauty. On the other hand it seems as though just when we think we’ve seen the most beautiful site, something new comes along and surprises us. so I’m just going to include some pictures today with a minimum amount of commentary. I think they speak for themselves.

The photo at the top is from Bow Lake, right off the highway. But everything was so still it was crazy beautiful.

Close up Reflection

This one may trip you up a bit. It is a closeup of the mountain reflection, but the stones in the foreground are not a reflection. It looks kind of weird without the perspective of the real landscape!

Peyto lake

This is Peyto Lake, just a short hike off the highway, it is well worth the stop!

Sunwapta Falls

Sunwapta Falls was another really short hike off the highway, with spectacular falls. The power of the water never ceases to amaze. I was messing around with shutter speeds to get the effect you see in this photo.

Emerald Lake

We hiked around Emerald lake, I think you can guess how it got its name. Emerald Lake is in Yoho national park in British Columbia. If I had written this post yesterday I would have titled it “Yoho, Yoho a Pirates Life for Me!”

Natural Bridge

Another beautiful waterfall, next to a spot you could easily drive by and dismiss. But well worth the stop.

Natural Bridge

Here’s another which gives you a better view of its bridge like qualities.

Wardrobe Malfunction at the Hot Springs

Moraine Lake

Happy Anniversary! Jane and I have been married 30 years today. People will say that is quite an accomplishment these days, I just can’t believe that 30 years have gone by so quickly. We have two amazing children that have grown into wonderful young adults. Yes, one of them is older than we were when we got married. We have had 30 years of incredible adventures, we have seen a pretty good fraction of the world, and are looking forward to seeing lots more of it. I’ve had a pretty great career doing what I love. I couldn’t have done any of it without Jane. Thanks honey!

We started today at Moraine Lake, its smaller than Lake Louise, and when you walk up to the waters edge you might think, meh, not as blue as Louise either. But if you climb up the rocks near the waters edge you don’t have to go very far before you realize its just a matter of perspective. Of course climbing the rocks was part of the fun, but once we got to the top we realized there was a much easier way to get there! After absorbing the view for a while we made our way down (the easy way) and did a short walk along the lake shore. The sun started to come out, so we made our way back up and you can see how different the colors are in the sunlight!

Moraine Sun

From Moraine Lake we headed down the Bow River Parkway towards Banff. Supposedly the wildlife is more plentiful along the parkway that the four lane freeway. There are so many places you could stop and hike or stop and view the scenery that we really had to pick and choose. Our main stop on the way down was at Johnston Canyon. We hiked our way up to the lower falls and were rewarded with some really great views. I’m always amazed at the power of these streams and waterfalls. You can really appreciate the power of water over the centuries as you see how this deep narrow canyon was formed by the water.

Johnston Canyon

By now it was lunch time and we headed for downtown Banff. Our first goal was for lunch, with a strong subgoal of finding a place where we could watch the USA versus Argentina soccer match later. We found ourselves at Park Distillery. They had the Euro on TV, but unfortunately they did not get FS1. Apparently with Canada not part of the Copa FS1 is not a priority in Banff, as this became a real theme as we went from place to place. First everyone assured us they got soccer, but when I clarified that we wanted the Copa America tournament, not the Euro things went downhill. After receiving multiple assurances that the Bear Street tavern did indeed get the Copa, we decided we were safe and could be about our business.

Our next stop of the day was the Banff Hot Springs. I will admit this seemed a bit cheesy to me, but after a few days of hiking who can resist a nice hot soak. You can rent everything you need at the Banff Hot Springs, including historical bathing suits. Holly should have done this as she forgot a critical part of her top back in the RV. Leaving her with a slightly thin top. Despite my reservations, and the fact the Hot Springs really were nothing more than a a big swimming pool full of hot mineral water the soak felt great, and we all got an extra shower! The quote of the day, was in the car on the way to the Banff Hotel when Holly was having further wardrobe problems and was heard to say “I can’t find them!”

Hot Springs

After a short tour of the Banff Hotel, we headed back downtown for some shopping and wandering around town. Basically wasting time until the game started. At 6:30 we headed over to the Bear Street Tavern to take up our seats and wait for the game to start, only to be told that it would be an hour and a half wait for a table with no guarantee of seeing a TV. Horrors! Fine then, off we go to the Pump and Tap tavern. Described by the hostess of the Park Distillery as “a dive bar”. But being that it was an English pub they did get the game. In fact the owner had purchased a package just this week to ensure that they would get the Copa. No credit cards accepted, no table service, but lots of TVs and some decent beer. They had a very short menu with a number of deep fried options.

Pump and Tap

Just before halftime we got a text from Bear Street that our table was available. Brian went to investigate. Site lines to the TV? Copa available? As it turned out there was a view of the TV, but they did not have the package that allowed them to see the Copa. We were at the only place in town that carried the game. As time wore on, more and more USA fans filed in to watch the game. Then Messi kicked that wondrous free kick to put Argentina up 2 - 0 and all we could do was be impressed at how good the guy is. Right after halftime Argentina went up 3 - 0 and our stomachs said we should find some good food, so we made our table available to more diehard USA fans and headed down the street to the Coyote Cafe.

We didn’t arrive back at the RV until after 9:30 which meant that it was a 12 hour day of touring and enjoying the sites around Banff.


We are older than we think

Lake Louise

Sitting in our campsite in Banff, my feet are up, I have a Gin & Tonic next to me, the campfire is started, the sun is still high in the sky, it’s 18:00. My iPhone tells me that I have taken 35,196 steps and gone 14.6 miles today! I believe the G&T is well earned. We are thinking of ordering pizza from Temple Pizza at the Fairmont hotel on Lake Louise because NOBODY WANTS TO GET OUT OF THEIR CHAIR!!

The first thing to say, is that today is totally a gift! The forecast was calling for rain but today was absolutely beautiful! Sunny and nice all day long. We had a perfect view of the mountains and everything else around Lake Louise today.

The day started out cool, with temps down to 35 overnight. Its OK, as Willard has a furnace to keep us nice and comfortable. But we all totally overdressed for the hike today, as I think it got well above the advertised high of 67 degrees. We thought this was our warmup hike of only 10K round trip. So Brian and I said we would ride our bikes up the road to Lake Louise. According to our best information it was only supposed to be 200 meters of elevation over 4 kilometers of distance. A slope of only 1/20. Someone Lied! it was 4k of straight up hill, lets just say we were warmed up by the time we got to the lake!

We took the obligatory, but still totally beautiful, pictures at the the Chateau and then we headed out for our hike to the Tea House in the Six Glaciers Plain. Six is definitely and overstatement, and if anyone thinks that global warming is a “hoax” they are idiots. If you think global warming is a hoax, I’m sorry if I’ve offended you, but science is not a matter of opinion. Science is based on observation and analysis and the evidence shows that the glaciers are MUCH SMALLER than they were 100 years ago. Why would glaciers be smaller? Higher average temperatures.

Anyway, the hike was still beautiful, and Brian even managed to see a chunk of glacier break off and fall off the cliff. The rest of us heard it, but by then it was too late!

Arrival in Banff

River Hike

It was difficult to get out of bed this morning. The rain was making rainy sounds on the roof and there was a chill in the air. Windows were cracked open an it was only in the 40’s outside. Someone had to get up and start the coffee. Also, it seemed like a great time to try the heater. I’m not sure it had been used before as it had that new furnace smell to it as it warmed up our little home. This got everyone out of bed and eating breakfast. It is Father’s day today. I’ve had electronic wishes from both Kaia and Josh.

Even in the rain our departure was pretty easy. Unplug, retract, and go. It was rainy and windy as we left the campsite, the rain ended pretty quickly but the wind hounded us all the way past Calgary. We had quite the experience of refueling at the Costco gas station! We pulled off Highway 1 expecting an easy (and cheap) experience only to find the lines 6 cars deep. Thankfully there was a nice guy directing traffic who got us over to the line for the end pump. It could have been a real disaster trying to make the turn out of the station if we didn’t have the extra room. We are finding that we are limited to $150 worth of gas which seems to be about half a tank!! We can go from ¼ to ¾ on a $150 charge.

Outside of Calgary we left the plains of Alberta and climbed into the beautiful Canadian Rockies! We are really getting the hang of setting up camp. Less than five minutes today. We’ll have to move our campsite by about 30 feet tomorrow as we are camped next to the site we have reserved for the next few days. After a quick lunch in the RV we decided to take a bike ride to the Village for some ice and then hike along the Bow River. As you can see the scenery is pretty nice!

Little Dam

Crooked Pine