Category Archives: Canada

Day 6 – Further into Saskatchewan

With a desire to see beyond the Saskatchewan plains we head northeast of Regina. Harvesting and haying is evident in all directions. It appears they’ve enjoyed a productive summer.

 

Saskatchewan Harvest

Qu'Appella River

 

We zip by a sign pointing to a scenic byway, after brief discussion we decide to turn around and explore that byway. After all the whole point of the day is to see more of the province. The route takes us to the lakes, ravines and scenic valley carved by the winding Qu’Appelle River. Echo Valley Provincial Park straddles both sides of the road along the shores of Pasqua and Echo Lakes. We don’t stop at the park but the scenery and facilities look to be well worth a visit. We turn eastward along the north shore of Echo Lake, an area lined with vacation homes. We can imagine how popular this area and its water activities are during the summer.

 

Fort Qu'Appelle

A park sponsored by the local Rotary Club commemorates the original Hudson Bay Company trading post at Fort Qu’Appelle.

We follow highway 10 to Melville and Yorkton, the largest city in the area with a population of 16,000. We stop for lunch  and a couple of successful shopping needs.

 

Our lodging reservations are at a rural bed & breakfast outside of Canora, a tidy town whose name is derived from the first two letters of  the CAnadian NOrthern RAilway. Via Rail serves the local station along the route between Winnipeg and Churchill, Manitoba.

 

Welcome to CanoraWe seek out the Ukrainian churches (Catholic and Orthodox) with their distinctive domes. (See separate post.)

 

When we made our reservations the B&B hosts warned us that they were hosting their bridge club for an annual dinner tonight. Upon arrival they insist we join them for dinner. This turns out to be a real treat as well as a tasty Italian dinner. The nearly 30 guests are very welcoming and engaged in interesting conversation – everything from area travel recommendations to Donald Trump.

 

Many of our dinner companions are most interested in our views on the presidential candidates. Canadians are in the midst of a prime minister election and I must say they know a lot more about our issues and candidates than we do about theres. My favorite quote of the evening, “We hope Donald Trump stays in the race for a long time, he’s the best comedy on television.”

 

The day proves successful in getting further into Saskatchewan, both geographically and the human element.

 

Royal Saskatchewan Museum – Regina

Version 2Surprises abound during our visit to the Royal Saskatchewan Museum in Regina. Surprise #1 is easy free parking. Surprise #2 is the FREE admission, is that great or not? There is a suggested per person donation which we willingly give. After seeing the quality and depth of the galleries we drop in an additional amount in support of the museum. A staff member offers a warm welcome and brief orientation.

 

Near the beginning of the Life Sciences Gallery is a large table-top map of Saskatchewan with eco-zones outlined. Buttons corresponding with outlines on the map activate an audio description of each zone from early formation to native lifeforms.

 

Moose - RSM

When planning our visit I found it difficult to find more than rudimentary information on the province. Surprise #4 – This was exactly what I had wanted for better understanding of what we would find in our travels. Surprise #5 – The geography of Saskatchewan is much more diverse than appears on road maps or in travel literature.

 

Porcupine

As we proceed through the gallery exhibits, dioramas, audio, video and informative signs display significant flora, fauna and landforms of each eco-zone – all extremely well done. We come eye to eye with moose found in the Taiga Shield, Barren-ground caribou wintering in the Boreal Shield, and a porcupine clinging to a tree trunk as found in the Aspen Parklands. As much as I would love to see these in their natural habitat I would never want to be this close and certainly wouldn’t be able to study them so closely.

 

Caribou - RSM

Interactive learning centers includes topics such as Avoiding Being Eaten, outlining defensive weapons various species possess, and Songs of Love where we can hear the sounds used to attract mates from cougars to Northern Leopard Frogs. I like the informative exhibit about the differences between El Nino, La Nina and a normal year. Is there ever a “normal” year?

 

Red-Headed Bird - RSM

Surprise #6 – The more than 350 species of birds and waterfowls found in Saskatchewan. I’m fascinated with the migration patterns of those who come north to breed. The route down the eastern side of the Rocky Mountains into Central and South America  is familiar. However, I never realized another route beginning in northernmost Saskatchewan that takes flight to the Maritime Provinces in Eastern Canada then thousands of miles south above the Atlantic Ocean and down the Brazilian coast. What a journey these amazing creatures undertake twice a year.

 

Goose - RSM

Costa Rico Rainforest - RSM

Surprise #7 – A large diorama depicting a wildlife refuge in Costa Rica. The scene shows the upper canopy of a rainforest in February with a “mixed flock” of tropical birds and songbirds that will fly north to spend a few summer months in the Saskatchewan forests.

 

Surprise #8 – We’ve spent nearly two hours and could spend more in this Life Sciences Gallery; there are still two others plus a temporary exhibit to survey. After a brief break we go to the lower level to the Earth Sciences and First Nation Galleries.

 

When it comes to the age of the dinosaurs I admit to having a shorter attention span than a typical four-year-old. The Earth Sciences Gallery tells the formation of Saskatchewan, ancient history and creatures that roamed this area more than a billion years ago. There’s much I could learn of extinct giant reptiles, mosasaurs, and dinosaurs but we make a fairly quick walk-through although this area deserves more attention.

 

Prehistoric Green Monster - RSM

First Nations Gallery traces the history of Aboriginal societies that lived in Saskatchewan. Artwork and artifacts recall cultural traditions. Again,  we don’t give this area as much attention as we should. On a future visit we might opt to start here to fully experience the history of Saskatchewan’s First Nations.

 

Traders - RSM

The Museum also features a theatre and the popular Megamunch, a ½-scale robotic T-rex named by the province’s schoolchildren.

 

Surprise #9 (and, only disappointment) – The gift shop has a very small book selection about Saskatchewan and nothing similar to the information in the Life Sciences Gallery.

 

Surprise #10 is the hard maple, leaf-shaped candy Bob finds. At three for $1.00 Bob adds three to my purchases. The volunteer clerk comments, “That won’t be enough.” Bob goes back for six more. When we get to the car we’re ready for a treat. Later in the afternoon we’re back at the museum making a $10 purchase of maple candy.

 

Day 5 – September Saturday in Regina, Saskatchewan

I don’t know how one could ask for a more perfect September Saturday. Since I’ve never master the Fahrenheit to Celsius conversion I can’t cite the temperature. However, the morning chill quickly warmed to comfortable shirt-sleeve weather.

 

Version 2

 

The day’s activities center around Regina’s Lake Wascana. The lake is surrounded by parkland and a combination of recreational, cultural, governmental and educational facilities. First stop this Saturday morning is the Royal Saskatchewan Museum. With extensive Life Sciences, Earth Sciences and First Nation galleries we easily spend more than three hours learning about the eco-zone, wildlife, historical and cultural diversities found in Saskatchewan.

 

Royal Saskatchewan Museum

 

Center of First Nation University

 

Needing time off our feet we decide to drive around Lake Wascana locating the Legislative Building, Science Center, Mackenzie Art Gallery, Wascana Center, gardens, walking trails and numerous lakeside viewpoints. South of the lake is the University of Regina campus; we stop to take pictures of the modern yet symbolic architecture of the First Nation University.

 

First Nation University - Horizonal

An ice cream cone sounds like an ideal afternoon refreshment when we spot a food truck. What a great location! Down a long walkway and surrounding gardens stands the Legislative Building; the top of the building is wrapped for current restoration work. We join a group observing a man piloting remote-controlled boats. One of his vessels is a replica fire boat complete with water hose expelling an arcing water stream. Children dare him to aim for them, then jump back with giggling glee.

 

Legislative Building - Regina

 

Boy & Fire Boat - Regina

Having skipped lunch we head for an early dinner. On our way into town two days ago Bob spotted a Tony Roma’s restaurant. All the Tony Roma’s in Colorado closed several years ago and we’re eager to once again order their St. Louis style ribs. We leave fully satisfied with dinner and service.

 

The evening is much too pleasant to return to our hotel room so we go back to Lake Wascana for a short walk and a park bench from which we watch families enjoying the park and the setting sun. Our only regret is that we didn’t have time to explore many of the other facilities – next time we’ll plan more days around Lake Wascana.

 

Lake Wascana at Dusk

Version 2

The end of a perfect September Saturday in Regina.

Day 4 – Royal Day in Regina, Saskatchewan – September 11, 2015

Bob with Mountie Moose

 

We head off to the Royal Canadian Mounted Police Heritage Center for our first activity of the day. All RCMP cadets are trained at the adjoining Regina Depot. The first thing we want to do is sign up to attend the afternoon Sergeant Major’s Parade – an event that requires an escort onto the Depot grounds.

 

Viewing a 20-minute film, Courage in Red, we’re introduced to the life of cadets during their initial six-month training to become Royal Canadian Mounted Police. Before attending the parade we visit several of the six galleries in the museum.

  • Creating a Mounted Police

  • Maintaining Law and Order in the West

  • Protecting the North

  • Serving All of Canada

  • Answering Duty’s Call

  • Cracking the Case

We’re fortunate to receive a tram ride to the parade square with a guide filling in many details of training activities, tour of the Depot grounds and history of the RMCP. The rat-a-tat of snare drums alert visitors to the beginning of the parade led by a band and followed, in order of seniority, by the current training troops.

 

Mountie Parade

At the end of the parade we’re welcomed into the chapel, dating from the 1800s it’s the oldest building at the Depot. We admire the colorful stained-glass windows, especially the two on either side of the altar. One is a red-coated Mountie in a pose of reverent remembrance of fallen officers. The other is a Mountie with bugle calling the troops to duty.

 

Version 2

On our ride back to the Heritage Center we learn of roles from support staff. The training center has a 12-person tailoring department, as one of the ladies in the film says, “We’re not just hemming pants we’re dressing Mounties.” There is also a leather shop where the distinctive, tall, brown boots are custom fitted to each cadet.

 

Upon arrival back at the Heritage Center we finish visiting the exhibits; and, of course, puruse the gift shop. We’ve spent more than four hours immersed into RCMP life and history. Our first activity of the day has become our only activity; but, an interesting and entertaining day.

Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada – September 25, 2014

Day in Vancouver

 

Vancouver Skyline

Although the day started with clouds and rain, we’re in Vancouver, get out and participate. This is a city of walkers and outdoor activities, a little rain is barely noticed. After a drive through Stanley Park and along English Bay we spent several hours at the University of British Columbia’s Museum of Anthropogy – a treasure trove of art and artifacts of First Nation peoples.

 

UBSMA - Mask

Bob is especially interested in the carvings of totems, house boards, masks, boxes, canoes. Timing was just right for me to join one of the free tour groups while Bob took detailed photos. Although we’ve been interested in Northwest Coast art and culture for decades I learned a great deal from the knowledgable, energetic guide.

 

UBCMA - Carvings

 

We needed a respite after museum time and headed back to Stanley Park for a mid-afternoon lunch at The Fish House restaurant. The calm ambience and seafood was greatly appreciated. We noted that in addition to lunch and dinner the restaurant serves afternoon tea as well.

 

Fish House Interior

 

The rest of the afternoon was spent at sites in the park – totem poles, lighthouse, dense forests and walks along the sea wall.

 

Stanley Park Lighthouse Walk in Stanley Park

 

Throughout the day we were encouraged by sun breaks and patches of blue skies. We even found the clouds photographic.

 

Afternoon Skies Over Vancouver

Northwest Road Trip – 2014

Two Weeks Down – Two To Go

Pentax Tetons 2

Can’t believe we’re two weeks into our driving trip to the Pacific Northwest, the first days seem so long ago – so much spectacular country between here and home. Taking a moment to reflect on the 14 days reminds us of all we’ve seen and experienced.

  • 3,050 miles traveled

  • 5 States – Colorado, Utah, Idaho, Montana,

                     Washington

  • 3 Canadian National Parks – Waterton, Banff, Yoho

  • 2 Canadian Providences – Alberta, British Columbia

  • 2 US National Parks – Grand Teton and Glacier

  • 1 Cousin Visit – Thanks Kay

 Lake Louise 2

 

We won’t soon forget seeing two American Bald Eagles while on the Waterton Lake Cruise, a grizzly ambling through a grassy field in Glacier Nt. Park, and a mother brown bear and two cubs chowing down in the same field two days in a row. Never before had we seen a rainbow and its reflection like the one at Emerald Lake.

 

Blue Heron InnAlternating between hotels, Nt. Park lodges, bed and breakfasts and the hospitality of family we’ve been fortunate to have no horror stories of places you would never catch us in again. It had been years since we’d stayed in a Ramada Inn and the memories aren’t great. When we needed lodging in Pincher Creek, Alberta a Ramada looked like the best choice; and I’m sure it was. The room was large, very clean, bed and linens of good quality, front desk staff friendly and efficient. Left this hotel with a new attitude towards the brand.

 

Definitely would return to the three B&Bs we’ve visited – Blue Heron Inn in Rigby, Idaho, Bad Rock B&B in Columbia Falls, Montana and Cromier B&B in Penticton, British Columbia. Each were unique with gracious hosts and gave a more personal experience to their area.

 

Vancouver Highrises

 

No big cities until we arrived in Vancouver today. Listed as the worst travel congestion and most traffic delays in all of Canada we’re quickly reminded of the realities of city life.

 

Arms Reach BistroWe’ve eaten in a variety of restaurants from neighborhood bistros to formal dining rooms (the worst service). I even have to admit to one stop at a McDonalds.We like to focus on local food whenever possible – huckleberries in Montana, saskatoon berries in Alberta, fresh from the orchard plums, pears, apples, artisan cheese and boutique wines in BC’s Okanagan Valley and fresh seafood in Vancouver.

 

Aspen in Yoho

 

Dinosaur digs, jagged mountain peaks, aqua blue glacier-fed rivers, acres of trees heavy with ripening apples, black angus grazing in seemingly endless grasslands, dense forest of towering western red cedar, new mown hay awaiting baling, golden aspen in their fall glory, hillsides covered in rows of vineyards, and rushing rivers, foggy mornings, clouds lying low in mountain valleys, vivid sunrises, a day without a single cloud in the sky, sheets of driving rain – visions captured in photographs and the mind. Memories.

 

Canmore Sunrise

What will the next two weeks reveal?

Parsons Farm Market – Keremeos, British Columbia, Canada

Everything’s Coming Up Pumpkins

Parsons - Tractor & Pumpkins

While traveling the Crowsnest Highway between the Okanagan Valley and Vancouver today I had to make a u-turn and backtrack to Parsons Farm Market in Keremeos, British Columbia. The area is known as the farm stand capital of BC and we had passed numerous stands but Parsons demanded a closer look. Established in 1908 and one of the first family operations to open a farm market Parsons is now overseen by the fourth generation.

 

Parsons - Apples

 

A collection of antique tractors stand adorned with a fall harvest of pumpkins, squashes and gourds. Large bins hold a rich harvest of tomatoes and apples. A mobile juicing unit is at Parsons today quickly turning shovelfuls of apples into juice. While the decorations are eye-catching the produce is very appealing, if we weren’t on the road for a couple of more weeks I’d be loading up on all sorts of fruits and veggies.

 

 

Parsons - Apple Juicing

I share a slideshow of some of my favorite pictures from our brief stop in Keremeos. Please take a couple of minutes and enjoy scenes of autumn that will surely put a smile on your face.

 

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Okanagan Valley, Canada – September 23, 2014

A Day of Orchards and Vineyards

Purple Grapes

With Penticton, British Columbia as home base we explored a small portion of the Okanagan Valley today. Acres upon acres of fruit trees and tidy rows of grape vines stretch across the landscape. Large red and golden apples await pickers and wine grapes swell with juice. Such a great location for a relaxed day of wandering back roads, tastings and photos – even if there were clouds and afternoon showers.

 

The Bench

Our day started at The Bench, a charming little artisan cafe and market a short walking distance from our lodging. A steady stream of locals stopped for morning coffee and conversation. We ordered “Eggers” (much like an egg McMuffin – only better) with a Dijon Mayo spread. Bob selected one with smoked salmon and capers, I chose bacon. We shared  a raspberry-nectarine scone made with fresh fruit. Yum, good start to the day.

 

Summerville Farmers MarketWe headed north along the west side of Okanagan Lake making a stop at the local farmers market in Summerland to purchase fresh pears and plums for an afternoon snack with cheese and crackers.

 

A helpful lady at the local visitor center steered us to Summerland Sweets and Sleeping Giant Winery a few miles outside of town. All over Western Canada gift shops and stores sell the jams, syrups and jellies (candies) made here at Summerland Sweets. A first for us was the syrup tasting station. With more than 20 syrups to choose from being able to taste before selection is a real bonus. I liked the Maplapple, Bob’s favorite was the Black Currant, we both agreed the pear was outstanding. Since this is a road trip we’re taking home quite a selection.

 

Summerland Sweets Syrups

 

Sleeping Giant WinesThe adjacent Sleeping Giant winery produces fruit wines, everything but grapes. From the long list we select five to try. Many are sweeter than normal table wines but some like the pear are dry and crisp. Peach is one of their top sellers and certainly gives off the distinctive peachy aroma. I note that a number of customers come in to purchase, knowing exactly what they’re after, obviously very familiar with the selection. To cap our tasting we try the seasonal pumpkin wine with the spicy flavors of clove, nutmeg and cinnamon. Our Thanksgiving guests will be greeted with mulled pumpkin wine this year.

 

Dirty Laundry EntranceThere are so many wineries in the region it’s hard to know which ones to select. On our first visit to the valley I chose by the more interesting names – Blasted Church, Black Widow, Laughing Stock, Therapy, Forbidden Fruit. How can one not wonder about a winery named Dirty Laundry? I remember taking home their Gewürztraminer. They’ve added a new tasting room and patio since our last visit. After tasting three different Gewuztraminers I select two for purchase. One of the wines won a North American award this year but at this point in the tastings I don’t remember the details. Tasters also hear the local legion of the Dirty Laundry name.

 

We spent the rest of the afternoon visiting a farm stand and driving up the east side of the lake to the village of Naramata. I don’t think one can go a mile without a sign directing you to a winery, artist studio or an artisan cheese maker. I need a week to explore this section of the Okanagan.

 

Black Widow Winery Okanagan Gourds

 

Apples 3 Rows of Vines

Sign of the Day – September 23, 2014

Think About It

It was raining so I didn’t stop to take a picture of this thought written in chalk on a blackboard in front of a restaurant in Naramata, British Columbia, Canada.

Don’t Steal

The Government 

Doesn’t Like Competition

Doesn’t matter if one is a citizen of the United States or Canada sometimes we all feel drained by government taxes.

Golden, British Columbia, Canada to Coeur d’Alene, Idaho

Clouds, Water & Forest

Travel Log – September 20, 2014

After a chilly, rainy night Saturday morning dawns damp and dim. As we head south from Golden, British Columbia the clouds are low and dense. For the first hour we drive at a much lower speed than normal to insure safe vision in the ever-changing foggy conditions. What we miss most are views of the rugged Canadian Rockies and the Purcell Range. By mid-morning the sun has done it’s job leaving only scant clouds in low lying areas.

 

Clouds souht of Golden

 

Our route takes us through the East Kootenays along lakes, the headwaters of the Columbia River and the Kootenay River. Lots of water and forest along the way. Radium Hot Springs buzzes with tourists and shoppers. We learn it’s the weekend of the annual Columbia Valley Classics Car Show & Shine with over 1,000 cars and trucks displayed at The Springs Golf Course. We bypass the show but from the stream of traffic headed into town see that the popular event draws a large following from Western Canada and the States.

 

Meandering Columbia River in BC

We cross the border back into the United States at Eastport, Idaho continuing south through Bonner Springs and Sandpoint to our destination – Coeur ‘Alene. The rest of the day is spent visiting with family and dinner at Moon Time where the roasted corn pasta salad is always at hit.