Reflections and images from my travels

Winter is Coming!

Saturday, September 30, 2019- I awoke, still unsure as to my plans.  The sky was quite grey and snowflakes were starting to come down, but, not really accumulating in the city. I decided I just had to go for it and started packing which took longer than expected.  Because I was going solo, I had the perfect shelter with a four season one-person tent that could certainly withstand the predicted snowfall and still keep me warm and dry.  I definitely had enough food with the purchased backpacking meals from Yamnuska and also had the right gear for the weather.  I tried to pack as lightly as I could, but, since I would be based out of my car one does get a little bit lazy and includes things one would never include if you were on a fully self-supporting trip.  I also packed my lightweight snowshoes as I thought they would come in handy.  I had no idea what activities I would undertake, this was going to be dependent on the weather once I got out there.

I finally left the city about noon, picked up an extra hot latte and drove off with relaxing music playing to get into “chill mode”. The roads were wet, not slippery, but there was definitely more snow as I got into the foothills.  I decided to have a nice lunch at Bow Valley Provincial Park which was pretty much deserted.  My stomach full, I drove back into Kananaskis country [my favourite place in the world] and decided to stay at the Mount Kidd RV Park as my home base.

I drove around before checking in. There were 3 or 4 other vehicles staying there total. I certainly had my choice of spots.  I found a nice spot on the edge of a small hiking trail in F loop and decided this is where I would stay.  I checked in at reception and the woman staff receptionist appeared eager to have some work and happily took my payment for two nights.  I then proceeded back to my site to set up my tent-my home away from home!

Having finished setting up my tent, I decided a nice little walk on the Mount Kidd trail immediately adjacent to my site was in order.  The weather was not really that bad and I did bring along my camera for some purpose. I really enjoy this relaxed pace as well as the focus on simple pleasures like walking in the woods which always seems to improve my photography.  It is something rare to have a singular purpose as well as have the freedom to just do it.  The trail was somewhat wet with many of the surrounding deciduous trees overburdened with snow hanging over the trail forcing me to plow my way through ensuring a snow shower!  There was no one else there further enhancing the experience.  It was a “tiny little walk” full of huge enjoyment.

After completing this walk, I continued walking along the perimeter trail on the outer boundary of the campground enjoying the solitude.  This RV Park during summer months would be absolutely packed and have a completely different sense of busyness even though the environment would be completely the same.  I much preferred my experience despite the inclement weather.

I returned to my campsite and came up with the system for food transportation and went back to the Camper’s Centre where I had access to an outdoor table with a covered roof to keep me out of the snow which was coming down heavier.  I brought along two separate single burner stoves allowing “two pot cooking”. Yamnuska provides individually packaged meal portions of dehydrated food as opposed to freeze dried food which I find is much superior in quality, taste and satisfaction.  You do pay extra for this, but, I find high quality food is essential for the overall enjoyment of these trips.  One stove was used for hot beverages and soup/appetizers, while the other, was used for the main meal.  Because the food was originally for a backpacking trip, the main entrée could be prepared in a single pot. The meals themselves were substantial and, in my opinion, gourmet compared to the usual freeze dried packet foods one generally brings.

Upon completing my meal washing up the dishes as well as myself, I retired to my camping site and climbed into my tent as the temperature started to drop and the snow began to fall even heavier.  I brought along a book of short stories I have been wanting to read for the last year-another luxury afforded by this trip type. I generally only bring an adjustable headlamp for reading but do not rely on any other artificial light sources.  Unlike regular life, once the sun goes down and it is dark it is time to sleep.  After one short story I was ready to fall into a deep slumber at the exceptionally late time of 8 PM.  Unheard of at home!  I fell asleep to the sound of snow gently falling on the roof of my tent.  Under these conditions, sleep always comes easily.  I wondered how I would keep myself entertained over the next several days.  Read on to find to out!


Friday, September 27, 2019-after completing some laundry, looking at the weather forecast for the upcoming weekend and email conversations with my travel mate Bob, we finally decided to cancel the Rockwall backpacking trip.  This was the second year in a row! How disappointing!  We did make preliminary plans to attempt it next year but definitely would have to schedule earlier to try and avoid the snow.

The weather forecast for this upcoming weekend looked pretty bleak.  The city of Calgary, surrounding foothills and mountain parks were to get a significant accumulation of snow between 20-70 cm depending on the location!  The Rockwall was a relatively high elevation backpacking trip over 5 days and simply would not have been that much fun.

This left me with what to do with the backpacking meals I had picked up the day prior and the remaining time I had off now that we were not going on the backpacking trip.  I could just stay at home, but, what was the fun in that!  I had some thinking to do today as I would be going solo and the weather forecast argued against camping even in the mountain park valley.

Would I stay, or would I go?  The decision would be made Saturday morning.

Home James!

We awoke earlier than we had been awakening these past three days. I did not sleep as well as previous nights but still got eight hours in!

After a quick breakfast we packed up and began the drive home. It was cloudy with intermittent rain showers but also sunny breaks.

We took the Galena Bay Ferry (the dangerous goods sailing😱) and were blessed with a lovely rainbow. Sweet!

We stopped for gas and loaded up with Starbucks coffees in Revelstoke before driving through the mountain passes.

There were a lot of construction delays between Revelstoke and Field BC which slowed us down a bit.

We kept hearing of a “snow event” this upcoming weekend in Alberta/BC which could impact my backpacking trip to the Rockwall. Sigh…..!

The drive went smoothly and before we knew it we were in Canmore to pick up my backcountry food order at Yamnuska. We had a nice early dinner at Woods Restaurant in Canmore and then got back to Calgary before 6 PM.

What a nice, relaxing trip! My next trip was in danger of being cancelled as the developing weather forecast was predicting up to 30-50 cm of snow at higher elevations. Fall in Alberta!! It’s not looking good.

Halcyon Day 3

We had a nice sleep but not as restorative as the two previous nights. It was going to be another relaxing “open” day at the resort.

I made a nice breakfast and hand crafted coffees as Anna caught up on Stranger Things Season 2 on Netflix! Yes, she is behind.

We then finally got dressed and went for our walk. We explored further north of the northern edge of the resort boundary. There is a connector road that leads through some private properties and self-contained rental cabins with “private” hot springs. This eventually led to a private road (Burnham) that has private cabins and again hot springs. We took a picture of the signs for future reference but did not go further.

We eventually got back to our cabin and I had the brilliant idea (not shared by Anna) to go swimming in the lake off the floating dock.

Down to the lakeside we went. I told Anna she had to get some pictures to prove I did swim in the lake. Off the dock I jumped with unbridled glee like a child. The water was actually quite nice. However, I had to do it six times while Anna got familiar with the continuous shooting mode of her old compact digital camera. So worth it.

After the plunge, we set on the lounge chairs and just soaked in the nice weather and almost fell asleep. There was little wind and the temperature was about 17 C.

It was a quick trip back to the cabin to chill and relax (had we been doing anything else?) before we changed and went up to the hot springs for a final dip before our departure tomorrow. Having done the night swim last night, we were planning just to have a low key birthday dinner (yes, mine) tonight with another G&T nightcap before going to bed early.

Dinner, as always, was excellent! We both had the special- beef short rib with polenta. After dinner we had a last look at the pools and walked back to the cabin for the best hand crafted G&T’s by Anna. A fitting end to a memorable trip!

Tuesday, September 24, 2019- another great sleep with a wake up time of about 9 AM. Heaven!

This was going to be a touring day. We had a great breakfast which Anna made. I made up some packed lunches for our trip. She made from scratch pancakes with fresh fruit and bacon. Yum!

We loaded up the ca and hit the road. It was actually sunny with blue skies. We had a quick drive into Nakusp and enjoyed a nice walk around town and visited a few shops. It was warm. We couldn’t help but stop in at Jennifer’s Chocolates for a sweet little purchase of a selection of her unique flavour combinations like curry/chocolate and whiskey/chocolate.

Onwards to New Denver where we stopped at the local campground for “lunch by the lake”.

Next we had a visit at the Nikkei Internment Centre which was well worth seeing. The grounds were peaceful (a Japanese themed garden) in stark contrast to the sad story of what the government of Canada did to these Canadians simply on the basis of their race.

The living conditions (shacks) were awful and redress did not occur until the 1980’s.

We then went to the Kohan Reflection Garden- a place of peace and solace. It was so beautiful there. We thoroughly enjoyed touring the gorgeous Japanese gardens.

It was time to travel back to our humble cabin, but, we stopped in at Summit Lake Provincial Park along the way. Anna found a toadlet and learned about the plight of said Western toads.

Once back at the cabin, it was time to go to dinner at the Kingfisher Restaurant. It was busier tonight. Another great meal was enjoyed. The portion sizes were perfect and so well prepared. A four star restaurant experience for sure!

After dinner we went back to our cabin to change into our swim suits so we could enjoy a hot springs soak from 9-10 PM- adult swim time, no kids allowed (we kept our swim suits on).

We felt totally relaxed afterwards and enjoyed a Jameson whiskey nightcap and drifted off to sleep.

Monday, September 23 2019- what a great sleep! Over 9 hours. Unheard of at home.

We had a very relaxing and lazy morning with no plans to go anywhere. Our only goal was to do a tour around the resort grounds and go for a dip in the hot springs later. I wish my home life plans were so simple.

The resort grounds are set in lovely woods with the Upper Arrow Lake in front and the Monashee Mountains across the lake west.

We found a lovely chapel on the grounds and spent some time taking photographs there. There were two gravesides beside a lovely brook. Peaceful.

Next, we carried on around the north part of the resort and found some lovely spots including moss covered slopes and a playground.

The flowers were beautiful here as well as the landscaping.

We then walked over to the south part of the resort where we found the “Nomads” cabin for CMH and the path down to the lakeside trail where we sat and enjoyed the view. This is also the launch point for the water sports area in summer. There was not much action presently!

A lovely staircase led us back to our cabin where we sat and relaxed from our “strenuous” walk.

We had arranged dinner earlier for the following three nights at 7 PM. Dinner was amazing yet again. Anna decided she would only have whatever was on special each night as they varied each night and they were always fantastic. The service was so quick and friendly.

I took a few pictures of the hot spring pools from the upper deck after dinner.

We retired back to our cabin for a hand crafted G&T nightcap made with Dingle gin acquired during our recent Ireland trip in June 2019 (a Dingle got my baby… we laughed uproariously over this quip) and listened to the patter of rain on our quaint little A-frame. Our eyes drifted closed. Another brilliant, relaxing day. We could feel the batteries recharging!

A short blog post. Again, work has been way too busy so it was time for another mini-break!

Anna and I had planned a short stay at a lovely hot springs resort I had passed when I was traveling in this area last year. It is called Halcyon Hot Springs and is about 1 hour south of Revelstoke BC including the ferry ride.

Sunday, September 22nd, I was patiently waiting for Anna to arrive. We were both tired for different reasons and were looking forward to the break.

When Anna arrived a bit later than we had agreed on, I could tell from her eyes that she was exhausted and had probably done a thousand things that morning trying to get ready for our trip. Even short trips require preparation! Good thing I was driving.

We packed up, picked up coffees for each of us and we were on our way. It was nice and sunny as we drove west and the fall colours were coming in. Perfect!

The drive through the Alberta mountains was uneventful. Soon, a lunch stop was needed, so I proposed stopping in at a lovely little restaurant in Field BC called the Truffle Pig. Unfortunately, as we tried to get into the village along the one road access we were blocked by a train at the crossing that did not look like it was going to move anytime soon. Foiled!!

We drove on to Golden BC and stopped at a great little 50’s themed diner that served fantastic food instead. What a pleasant surprise! The burgers were great. That’s what I love about road trips. These little unexpected surprises.

The traffic was sparse as soon as we turned south of Revelstoke heading towards the Shelter Bay Ferry. The weather had also become very cloudy with low lying cloud and rain so we passed on the opportunity to visit the Meadows in the Sky (aptly named) Provincial Park. Perhaps we would visit on the way back.

We chatted with Katherine, the attendant, at the Shelter Bay Ferry side waiting for our crossing which only occurred once each hour, on the hour, at this time of year.

Before we knew it, we were on the other side and our resort was a quick 10 minute drive. We checked in and unpacked our supplies in our quaint “home from home” for the next 4 days. It was lovely and peaceful here. Just what we needed. We loved our little A-frame!

We relaxed for awhile and then went for a wonderful soak in the hot springs (2 mineral spring pools of different temperatures 104 F and 99 F) and then had dinner at about 8 PM. The food at the Kingfisher Restaurant on site was fabulous. Sleep came easily that night. Our plans for the next 4 days……none!

We awoke to our last full day in Ireland. Tomorrow we would be flying home! How quickly the time passes. We slept in again but this time longer and got going by noon! This was never occur once we get home.

My final name is…………..(drums rolling please) Michael D. Higgins, the current President of Ireland.

We had a very open plan today. Just walk freely and see where we end up. We had a few last minute gifts Anna had to pick up and we had to get that whiskey flight in and finally find that bottle of Dingle Gin to bring home.

As we walked closer to the center of town we decided to visit Trinity College, the premier learning institution in Ireland. What a great choice it turned out to be. It was like a small city within a city. Beautiful old architecture and so much history. We decided to pony up and pay to get a guided tour from a just graduated student “looking to make some money before he started his masters”. He was wearing the actual student robes of Trinity College that are currently optional for students to wear (apparently no one wears them).

It included a tour of the Book of Kells. Fascinating. The Exhibition displays the Book of Kells, a 9th century manuscript that documents the four Gospels of the life of Jesus Christ. The Book of Kells is Ireland’s greatest cultural treasure and the world’s most famous medieval manuscript..

The history behind it’s origins on the Isle of Iona and it’s transfer to Dublin and the Trinity College for safekeeping enthralled us. No photography was allowed in the chambers where the books were housed (sorry, you will have to visit yourselves). The writing was ornate on vellum with colourful pigments and in a Gaelic form of Latin.

The Exhibition also featured access to the Long Room, one of the world’s most beautiful libraries, that houses 200,000 of Trinity College’s oldest books. We were awestruck again. It was massive and with the books arranged from the floor with the largest and heaviest to the ceiling smallest and lightest. The effect was both solemn (quiet like a church) and awe inspiring. This is a must see if you are in Dublin!

Next we were off to the Museum of Irish Whiskey. A proper museum! We had hoped, and our hopes were realized, that we could order a whiskey flight. We had four different types of Irish Whiskey all different in character. Anna and I both agreed the Powers whiskey was the best of the lot.

We then went along Grafton Street and area and got some of Anna’s shopping done. I was tempted by a very nice jacket but decided against it. Anna felt I made a very dire mistake.

A final walk around the Temple Bar district with an actual walk through the Temple Bar and we walked back to our hotel for an early night. We found a Tesco on the way back and went in and…..found Dingle Gin on sale. Ah, the gods were smiling down on us.

We had to get up very early for our flight tomorrow morning and pack tonight so we decided we had completed our Ireland holiday.

Until next time……….

Yet another “sleep in” day this Monday morning! We were hoping for better weather after our drenching last night. We got going by 10 AM and decided to walk into city center, but first, our latte and scone/chocolate croissant. Ah……….!

My name today is George Salmon- a former Provost at Trinity College.

We walked over to the tourist center across from Trinity College and found our location to get on to our hop on “hop off bus” (the official one, thank you). This is a great way to quickly view all of the sites in a city. We did not have the same issues with being accosted like we were in Belfast. We went directly to one guide and the other simply accepted it.

I really did not expect to take many pictures from the bus, but I had a camera and the weather was actually summer-like today (go figure, mind you I did pack my rain jacket) so I did.

We travelled through the center of town including the Cathedral District, The Liberties, Phoenix Park, the North Side, along the River Liffey, the refurbished Dockside and back along Pearse Street.

We completed the full tour and then stayed on for the first part and then got off to explore St. Patrick Cathedral. This beautiful Cathedral was refurbished with money from Arthur Guinness. For this, he got his own statue on the front side of the Cathedral. The inside was full of history, old tombs and remembrances to those Irish fighters who died in numerous conflicts. The stained glass panels were numerous and spectacular. Hours whittled away as we explored.

We got back on the bus and looked forward to stop #15, the Jameson Distillery Tour. We had planned to do this on our first day in Dublin, but, as you recall we fell asleep that afternoon. No such mistake would be made today! The distillery is located on Bow Street but this is only for tourists tours. This distillery shut down when the “Big Three” distillery houses amalgamated their operations with the resurgence of Irish whiskey making. They have a huge production facility elsewhere in Ireland. This old distillery had so much character and the tour itself was one of the best we had ever been on. Our guide was very entertaining and we are sure he is a professional actor in his other job.

Our tour included a tasting of three whiskies- a Scotch whiskey single malt, a triple distilled Irish whiskey and an American whiskey. The triple distillation makes for a very smooth spirit which Anna preferred. I myself still preferred the Scotch whiskey? We then proceeded to the shop and are proud owners of an engraved jigger, a bottle of the Jameson Distiller’s Edition and a certificate proclaiming us as official whiskey tasters!

We walked around Grafton Street and the Temple Bar Area where we had a nice lunch. We soaked in as much of the Dublin spirit (and spirits) as we could.

We stayed in the central area as we had booked a historical ghost tour later that evening. First we had a pint at The Oak where several patrons were waiting to go to a performance of Gladys Knight at the historic Olympia Theatre which was just a few doors down.

At 8 PM, Mark, our ghost tour guide arrived. He was very informative and we really enjoyed the ghoulish tales he wove for us as we walked around old Dublin town. We even found out that Handel’s Messiah was first performed in Dublin. There were stories of Molly Malone, the “Hellfire Club” and the untimely demise of Darkey Kelly (who still lives on as a ghost at St. Audoen’s Church and as a local pub).

The evening’s weather was very warm, clear and calm (not the Ireland we had come to know). We were treated to a beautiful evening as the tour’s gruesome tales came to an end.

Belfast to Dublin

We must have been tired! What a great sleep in this fine Sunday morning. We really took our time as I processed pictures and Anna took a shower and re-organized her purse. We finally got going by 11:30 AM and checked out. We re-connected with Midge at the infamous car park and dropped off our luggage and then went down to Cafe Nero for a really nice latte and scone/onion and cheese twist. We then proceeded to the car park from hell and could not figure out how to get to the exiting pay station. We had to pay manually because our hotel gave us a deal on the rate. We found a way out to the ground level but ended up back at Cafe Nero. It was like we were in the Bermuda Triangle! We then decided to just drive the car down to level one and I would walk out to the pay station office. As I walked down the ramp the attendant said you really should use the entrance walkway. No s*** Einstein! I paid and used the pedestrian walkway instead of just walking up the ramp to please him.

Oops….almost forgot, my name today is George Best. If you like soccer (oops… football) you will recognize it.

We were finally on our way. The exit from our hotel to the M1 was surprisingly quick compared to our arrival in Belfast.

We filled up the car with gas just outside Belfast as the driver Dublin was only 90 minutes. As I pulled away from the gas station I noted a check engine light lit up on the dashboard. It was not flashing so we drove on hoping Midge would not let us down. She didn’t!

We arrived uneventfully at the Dublin Airport but did have a little fun finding the rental car park. We eventually found it and we got a transfer to Terminal 2 and could not for the life of us find a ground transportation kiosk. We walked over to Terminal 1 and found one and lucky us the next bus leaving to City Center was in 5 minutes.

We arrived at our Dublin Hotel- the Pearce Street Maldron and checked in. It was straight down to the bar for a red/pale ale for Anna and a Bulmers Cider for me.

There are no real photos as this was a transfer day. Here is one. I am always ahead of Anna in drinking on holidays!

We enjoyed an early dinner-home made pasta at a great little Italian restaurant again calling our name with it’s siren call- and we got properly soaked again walking back to our hotel again forgetting our rain jackets. The only cure were two Irish coffees stat! We settled in for a quiet and early night. We would be exploring Dublin tomorrow proper!

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