Reflections and images from my travels

Archive for the ‘General’ Category

The Dingle Loop

We had the best sleep ever! Perhaps going up Connor Pass yesterday had some role to play? We planned for a very leisurely morning as we only had about 50 km to cycle.

Oh….. my name today is Harry Clarke (of stained glass fame). Anna’s choices are becoming more esoteric.

The breakfast at this B&B was fantastic. We were delayed a bit afterwards by some technical glitches trying to download pictures for the blog posting from yesterday. I finally got it done and we packed up.

It had rained through last night and we could hear rain on and off as we were preparing but I still put sunscreen on. Anna asked “are you feeling optimistic?”. I was.

We started to cycle out of town full of anticipation for the famous Dingle Loop. Patrick, our guide, had stated that this could be the highlight of the trip.

We thought the tour would keep us on the Slea Head Drive the whole way but soon we were directed to a side lane. It was so quiet and passed through lush and pastoral farmlands.

It started to rain quite heavily so it was back on with the rain gear. Eventually we did back to Slea Head Drive and the views grew progressively more stunning. We couldn’t believe how beautiful it was. The clouds started to clear and we suddenly saw an unusually bright orb in the sky…….the sun surrounded by blue sky. Yeah!! It was off with the rain gear for the rest of the ride.

The road was narrow and built into the cliff side with precipitous drops on our left to the turquoise coloured sea below. We passed an ancient Celtic Farmhouse Museum, an old wall fort, some original famine shacks and ancient Celtic beehives. We almost stopped in to “pet a baby lamb”!

Soon the Blasket Islands came into view. Stunning! We were at Slea Head and within 1 km of the Blasket Center I left Anna to take the intermediate route back. As soon as I left her I wondered about my choice as I had a 12% grade climb. I eventually got to the top and then stayed on high, quiet country lanes. Fantastic. There was quite a bit of climbing but eventually a lovely downhill section exiting by a stunning church in Ballyferriter.

I passed by a pub (no way, in Ireland) but decided just to head back to Dingle. It was fast and fun cycling. I had adjusted my seat higher this mornings and had it exactly correct. The legs felt good! Before I knew it I was back in Dingle.

Anna would take longer to get back so I parked the bike and walked back into town for a well deserved latte and minestrone soup. Yum!

I took a few more photos in Dingle and then walked back the long way to the B&B.

Anna eventually returned with a few purchases. She had seen some lovely pottery and original art pictures and was intent on purchasing same prior to our leaving Dingle tomorrow.

We walked into town and had one of the best meals we have ever had at Doyles Seafood Restaurant. The seafood linguine was amazing. We finally had our Dingle gin there as well. Afterwards we went to Foxy John’s pub and hardware store (yes, it’s an Irish thing) for a pint of Smithwick’s Red Ale as we listened to a local Irish musician.

Finally, we returned to our B&B for a glass of red wine and drank in our final sunset. It was off to Killarney tomorrow. Could life get any better?

Connor Pass Conquered!

We did not sleep well in Limerick! I am not sure why. I was up at 1 AM, then 3 AM for 2 hours and then I drifted in and out until 7 AM.

Who are you (today?) who, who, who who……! I am Connor Collins!

A quick shower helped and then we had a nice breakfast at the hotel and took our bags down to street level where we were greeted by Patrick, our guide support/driver. He was very pleasant and punctual. We started off 5 minutes before our appointed time. It was raining quite steadily in Limerick though as we drove out from the city.

Patrick was an ex-policeman working for Lifecycle Adventures for just a year. They had just started tours here last year. He kept us entertained and informed unto we reached Camp our start off point. We met our “bike guy” there and after about 30 minutes we were ready to ride! It was still raining. Anna loved her e-bike right away dispensing with some of her trepidation about this tour. The ride started very easily which was great for Anna. We did find a good place for Anna to pray for good luck on the upcoming tour!

She looked strong and comfortable. As we rode the rain got heavier but our lunch spot soon appeared Tomasins Bar.

We had a really great lunch meal here with hot and hearty soups and a filling main course. Now, back on the bikes! After about 5 km my route detoured from the main route. I was heading off to Brandon Point to get an extra 20 km in while Anna would proceed directly up the Connor Pass to get to Dingle before me.

As soon as I turned off the main ride I knew I was somewhere special. The road became a rolling lane with stove bridges and pastoral surrounding farmland. Gorgeous. I passed a lovely church and then had a steady climb to Brandon Point. It was windy but I had the expanse of the Atlantic Ocean before me. I stayed for a little bit entertained by sheep dogs herding sheep. The newborn lambs were very cute.

It was a nice ride back down to the main road and then time for the main event- Connor Pass! A steep climb 7.7% grade for 5 km. I took several layers off for the climb. Thankfully there was not too much traffic on this single track pass road. The crest of the Pass soon appeared! Success! The views were spectacular. It looked dark and foreboding though.

The next part was fun. A 10% downhill for 7 km straight into Dingle. The stinging rain drops and constant braking took some energy. One did not want to fall here.

Dingle was like a jewel in the distance and soon I was in the heart of this lovely, tourist town at the Visitor Centre. The GPS track ended here, but, I then remembered I had not written down the name of our B&B! Thankfully, I had a Dropbox file named Ireland 2019 on my phone with the name of our accommodation- the Greenmount Inn. I used Google Maps which got me there in no time.

Anna has already arrived and seemed to be enjoying a long, hot shower. She eventually emerged from the bathroom and I asked her how things went? She said fine…..but, with one little incident. What incident I asked? Apparently at the start of the climb to Connor Pass she didn’t quite get the gearing down on the e-bike quite right and then couldn’t get her foot out of the basket in time before she fell onto the ground in the lane of traffic! She had difficulty getting up but a nice woman stopped and asked her if she needed help. At that point she she was able to get up somewhat scraped and cut on her right lower leg. To her credit she soldiered on and got to Dingle. Initially concerned, my thoughts turned to admiration for her fortitude. Good on her.

Our B&B was beautiful and even had an honour Bar! Gary the owner was very nice and a bit of a joker. When Anna asked him for the WiFi password, he started to recite a complex Gaelic but after several unintelligible consonants developed a devilish grin and laughed. Anna thought he was serious.

We went into Dingle for some great seafood at the Fish Box and then crossed the street to tour the spectacular St. Mary’s Sacred Heart Church. We had dessert at Murphy’s Ice Cream Bar (produced from the local Kerry cow- a rare, indigenous breed) and then walked back to our B&B to enjoy a glass of red wine looking through panoramic windows on Dingle Bay as the sun set.

Needless to say we were delighted by Dingle! The Dingle Loop was tomorrow and is one of the most spectacular cycle roads in the world! We could hardly wait as we drifted off to sleep.

Galway to Limerick

I think I lost some points with Anna this morning. I awoke on our last day in Galway absolutely convinced it was 7:15 AM. I hit the shower and came out ready to face the day. Anna sleepily said “why are you up so early”? I said “whatever do you mean my dearest”? She said “it’s 5:15 AM you idiot”! Oh my! She got the puppet out and we went over the intricacies of telling time!

My name today was Paddy O’Donnell! It just happened to be the name of the street our hotel in Limerick was located on!

I laid in bed for about 45 minutes and then got up to do an early morning walk as Anna pondered my demise as she could not get back to sleep.

It was a beautiful morning and I explored West Galway, the South University Campus and the Canal Pathway system.

When I got back to the hotel we went down for a nice hotel breakfast and then headed out for some shopping.

The original store we planned to shop in was closed but we found another with the identical items. We did not make it over to the Aran Islands yesterday but their merino wool sweaters, scarves and hats were easily available in Galway. Free shipping back to Canada was offered so we took advantage of the offer and before we knew it a good part of our gift shopping was done.

We continued to walk around Galway taking in our last experiences including a tour of the St. Nicholas Church and shopping at a craft sale just outside the church.

We then had a nice espresso before heading back to the hotel.

We packed up quickly and then walked the 3 minutes to the Galway Train Station. Our train to Limerick did not leave for another 90 minutes so it was back to the Meyrick Hotel Bar for a Galway Hooker (get your mind out of the gutter!) and a Guinness. Anna picked up a couple of bags of crisps for the train ride as we could not locate any shop willing to sell us a couple of bottles of Prosecco at a good price!

The Train ride allowed me to catch up on blogging as Anna read up on our bike tour.

We arrived in Limerick and used Anna’s phone GPS through TripIt to direct us to our hotel which was apparently 8 minutes away. We were directed to the middle of a block with no hotel in sight! We did find a small sign at that location that listed Georgian Limerick which was not the hotel. After some web searching we determined the booking was under the wrong name in Expedia. The correct name of the hotel was The George Hotel and when this was entered we found our way quickly and thankfully it was close to our incorrect location.

We settled in and then went to a local pub Flannery’s- established in 1889- and had a nice pair of ales to relax. This was truly a classic neighbourhood pub!

Next it was off to the Glen Tavern for a great pub meal and then a walk along the Shannon River.

On our way back to the hotel we stopped into the Savoy Hotel for a nightcap but to our horror they had never heard of a whiskey smash so we “settled” on a pair of Old Fashioned’s. While we enjoyed our drinks we were serenaded by Nancy Sinatra and our new favourite song “Summer Wine” (Google it!).

Finally, it was back to our hotel bar (I know, it sounds like we have a real problem here doesn’t it?) to finish off the night with an Irish Coffee.

Our bike tour starts tomorrow so it was an early night. Anna is a bit trepidatious. Will it all go well?

Cliffs of Moher and the Burren

We both had a great sleep and awoke refreshed. We had a nice breakfast at our hotel and then simply walked across the street to our pick up point for our tour to the Cliffs of Moher.

My name today you ask? Why it’s James Lynch (he hung his own son from his manor window just to prove a point, hence, the word lynching).

The large tour bus was waiting. As we boarded Alan, our tour guide, informed us the ferries to the Aran Islands were cancelled due to high winds. Instead of going to the Islands we would be taken to a local cave for a tour.

Alan was very entertaining and informative as we travelled through lush, green countryside. He told us of the great famine the people had endured during the 1800’s and the effect it had on the country, people and the Irish language. He explained the reason behind the famine walls we saw along the way. There were examples of thatched roof cottages and even a famine cottage.

We were travelling along the Wild Atlantic Way on narrow roads that barely accommodated the large bus we were on.

We passed through the Burren and stopped to appreciate the limestone formations and additionally noted the very strong blowing winds.

Before we knew it we arrived at the Aillwee Cave. We were taken down in 2 groups for about a 45 minute round trip. The guide was excellent and very entertaining. Aillwee Cave is a cave system in the karst landscape of the Burren in County Clare, Ireland. The name Aillwee is derived from the Irish Aill Bhuí which means “yellow cliff“. Privately owned, it forms part of the Aillwee Cave and Birds of Prey Centre attraction. The temperature is constant throughout the cave system at 10 C. The bones of a long dead bear adorns the entrance.

After our caving experience we were taken for lunch in Doolin. Doolin is known for it’s musical heritage and as the gateway to the Aran Islands. We had a fantastic lunch run by the “Soup Nazi”. Fish pie and seafood chowder was greedily consumed. Anna bought a nice Claddagh ring on sale which made her very happy.

We rode on to the Cliffs of Moher. This is the second most visited tourist site in Ireland after the Guinness Storehouse. When we exited the bus we were almost blown over (really) by gale force winds! The Cliffs are breathtaking and are sheer vertical faces that climb up to 230 m above sea level and extend for 8 km! Seabirds nest along the cliff walls including Guillemots and Puffins. There is a very long walkway (20 km) that travels along the cliffs and connects Doolin to Liscannor. Needless to say with the wind we were not going to do this walk. We did walk up to the high point for some photos. It was quite busy but apparently not as busy as it is in July when about 250 buses visit daily!

We spent some time in the cool visitors center which is built underground in the hillside to not detract from the surrounding landscape.

We got back on the bus and had a lovely drive back through quiet Countryside including an interesting descent of Corkscrew Road (it exactly lives up to its name).

We got back to Galway and tipped (much deserved) our driver/guide with money and a 80% cacao chocolate bar (a bit of a story) which brought a smile to his face.

It was off to the hotel to chill (it’s such a hard life) and then to walk around Galway and find a dinner spot. The latter proved to be quite difficult as it was so busy! Most restaurants were full. We did find a nice pub with very good seafood (Anna’s choice tonight).

We went back to our hotel bar for a nightcap which was very quiet. The bartender looked absolutely bored. Anna was impressed with him though. Two young lads (somewhat drunk) came in trying to get more liquor even though they clearly had enough in numerous other bars they had likely visited that same evening. He refused to serve them and they left without incident. Anna gave him a big tip which brought a smile to his otherwise steely demeanour!

Galway has been a great experience. We were to leave to Limerick tomorrow but not until early afternoon. We had some shopping to do for gifts.

Green and Grey……. Galway!

I awoke earlier today than Anna and decided to head out for a walk. No particular destination. It was a lovely morning and I had slept well so I was full of energy. It had been a rather slothful previous 2 days so activity was warranted.

What’s my name (an homage to Deadpool)- it’s Colm Farrell!

I decided to find Phoenix Park as our cabbie had mentioned how large and beautiful it was. There was also a Bloom Festival going on in the park that weekend. I proceeded to walk down a side road from our hotel and quickly found Heuston Train Station 1.15 km from our hotel (thank you GPS watch!). Fantastic! This would be our departure point from Dublin today to Galway. It was well within walking distance.

I quickly saw the Bloom Festival signs and followed them until I reached the entrance to the park. Phoenix Park (Irish: Páirc an Fhionnuisce) is an urban park lying 2–4 km west of the city centre, north of the River Liffey. Its 11 km perimeter wall encloses 707 hectares (1,750 acres); it is one of the largest enclosed recreational spaces within any European capital city. It includes large areas of grassland and tree-lined avenues, and since the 17th century has been home to a herd of wild fallow deer. The English name comes from the Irish fionn uisce meaning “clear water“. The Irish Government is lobbying UNESCO to have the park designated as a world heritage site. In 2018 it was named the Best International Urban Park.

During my walk I saw many waterfowl including a pair of swan with 6 newborn goslings, said fallow deer and numerous joggers and walkers. The Park was huge! The walk took longer than expected, but, I eventually returned to the hotel to a slightly worried Anna.

We had a nice breakfast at the hotel and a very reasonable check out time of noon. We walked through the Irish Museum of Modern Art grounds to get to the Hueston Train Station. The parklands were being prepared for the Forbidden Fruit Festival. We got to the train station early and walked around but we were almost run over by two strapping lads pushing some heavy stocking carts. At the same time our eyes fell on the word Prosecco on one of the boxes and we of course followed them to a local shop. Said Prosecco was on sale (a great deal) and 2 bottles found their way into my luggage (of course I paid for them). We then celebrated our find with two half pints of Bulmer cider at the Galway Hooker (a hooker is a type of traditional Irish boat and not what you were thinking) because Anna saw some men drinking said libation and liked the colour, a tangerine orange. It was delicious.

Our train was boarding soon so we headed off to the listed platform 7 only to find out 10 minutes prior to departure that the train was on Platform 5. We made it! We were off to Galway.

I named this blog posting green and grey because that explains Ireland’s scenery and weather. Beautiful, lush green landscapes with grey, overcast and often rainy weather. We observed this as the train transported us the two and a half hours from Dublin to Galway. It gave me time to catch up on the blog and download some photos. A pleasant journey augmented with a bag of onion and cheese crisps. Anna loves saying that word!

We arrived in Galway and got to our hotel on the edge of Eyre Square within 4 minutes. Just before we arrived at the hotel I turned to Anna and stated how remarkably smoothly all was going when my heavy rolling duffel bag abruptly slipped out of hand and fell on my right foot! As the Irish say- don’t be too proud!

The Victoria hotel is currently being renovated and thankfully, as it is a bank holiday weekend, there were to be no workers banging away during our stay. It is a very quaint, boutique hotel perfect for our purposes.

We enjoyed a bottle of our stash of Prosecco and then hit the town spying out the shopping district and looking for a restaurant.

There were so many Italian restaurants! I am not sure why? The city itself is lively and full of stag and stagette destination groups who like to party. This was a new phenomenon to me but luckily Anna explained it to me.

Galway is known for its Gladdagh rings and Isle of Aran sweaters and we were on the hunt! We found a great sweater shop and planned to return to shop prior to departing. We also found a nice Italian restaurant for a meal. We visited the Latin Quarter and the Dock Road and then decided to finish the night with a gin and tonic at the Hotel Meyrick. I went to the bar to order the local Galway gin with elderflower tonic water and when I turned I was shocked to see my chair occupied by an Irishman chatting up Anna! I had to remain Colm (get it!) as I approached our table. The fellow, named Colm, was attending one of his friend’s stag party in town and decided to take a break from all of the partying and come to a quieter bar! He openly admitted he was drunk but was happy to talk to a pair of Canadians. We had a wide ranging, somewhat disjointed but very entertaining conversation before we saw an opportunity to diplomatically leave his company as he insisted he buy us a drink. We left him in the good hands of a woman at the bar!

We made our way back to our hotel with Anna’s keen sense of direction and retired for the night. We were looking forward to our tour of the Burren and the Cliffs of Moher tomorrow. The departure point was directly across from our hotel at a funky Hostel voted the best in Ireland. It had some cool murals in it’s stairway.

Dublin Daze……

Just to be clear, we did not sleep on the overnight flight from Halifax to Dublin! It does not matter how tired we were, we simply could not sleep on airplanes. I did, however, listen through my entire “relaxed” playlist. I also had a rather annoying seat passenger to my left who kept encroaching on my personal space. Thankfully, the flight was just shy of five hours.

For your information I am Seán O’Reardon today! An Irish writer apparently.

We arrived unrefreshed in Dublin and early too. Security was a breeze and the border officer was so nice. A great introduction to Ireland!

It was too early for the Airport shuttle, so, we just grabbed a cab. Our cabbie was David Cunningham and he was most helpful in trying to teach us a little Gaelic which we failed miserably at.

We arrived at our destination- the Dublin Hilton- and dropped off our bags (after a little reorganization) and had breakfast there.

We did not plan very much today as it was a transition day and we were tired. However, we decided the Guinness Storehouse Tour was a must. It was only a 20 minute walk from our hotel, but, is was rather confusing to find the entrance. The brewery is massive and clearly a popular tourist spot!

The tour involved climbing 7 successive flights and along the way learning the history of and how Guinness is made. Four simple ingredients but quite a complicated process. The barley must be roasted at 232 C exactly and the final colour is ruby red and not brown of the famous ale. We also learned about the founder and his 9000 year lease on the brewery lands and his wife who bore him 21 children (not all survived)!

The highlights of the tour were the tasting room (the whole point of attending and the proper temperature to drink the hallowed ale at which is between 5-7 C) and the Guinness Academy where we learned how to properly pour a pint (5 steps to the perfect pour). We enjoyed our perfectly self- poured pint upstairs at the Gravity Bar where we enjoyed a panoramic view of Dublin. Anna got a bit of shopping done at the ground level gift shop and then we made our way back to our hotel.

Along the way back we stopped in at St. James Church (est. 1724). Anna needed to ask forgiveness for her many sins!

We got back to the hotel and found out our room was ready early for an early check in. Yes!

As soon as we got in the room, I launched myself on the bed, and according to Anna, I was fast asleep with jacket still on within 2 minutes. She figured it out after having a conversation with me for 5 minutes and wondering why I was not responding! We were both so tired from two overnight sleepless nights. What a great treat. An afternoon nap for about 5 hours!

We finally got up and decided to have dinner at the hotel as we did not want to venture too far.

We had a light meal and then went for a quick walk around the local grounds and then went down to the fitness centre for a swim but found out it would close in 10 minutes so we passed. Instead we decided a visit to the lounge for nightcaps was in order and I introduced Anna to the delights of the Whiskey Smash. We grabbed 2 glasses of Prosecco with fresh strawberries and retired to our room. Lovely!

Before we fell asleep, we planned our travel route from Dublin to Galway and booked our Galway tour (the Cliffs of Moher) for this upcoming Sunday. Tomorrow was a travel day and we figured a good night’s sleep would get us back on track for the next stage of our Ireland adventure.

Halifax Hop

Hello again everyone! I’m back………!

It has been too long since I’ve last traveled. The same excuses…..work and regular life have consumed my time. The last 6 months have been very heavy for me professionally. You reach that point when you know you need to get away and I definitely had reached that point. As I age, so does my practice, and many of my long term patients unfortunately developed severe malignancies. Life is really fleeting and one must extract as much from life as one can as long as you are granted the opportunity.

The plan this time (one of Anna’s dream trips) was to cycle in Ireland. Neither of us had been to the Emerald Isle and this was the perfect opportunity.

Everything was planned many months ago and Anna took the lead with booking. She had planned the flights perfectly with a short layover in Halifax before connecting to Dublin, but, it seemed West Jet had other ideas. Soon after booking, we received notification that our outgoing flight was canceled and replaced by a later flight out of Calgary on our departure day with an overnight flight to Halifax (great, we never sleep on airplanes) and a 15 hour layover in said city before another overnight to Dublin. No reason or options were provided!! Argh……..! I so love air travel. However, I must admit you eventually do get to great locations.

Packing proved to be more work than expected. I completed mine a day prior to leaving. The plan was to stay overnight at Anna’s and have a relaxing hot tub enjoying a nice bottle of Prosecco I had purchased. I budgeted 1 hour to pack….. it took almost 3 hours so I arrived late at Anna’s Tuesday evening. She had a busy day-working again at a contract position she had taken on- and looked spent when I arrived. Anna had a rough go with many recent family deaths so she just needed to chill that evening. There was still plenty of time for her to pack the next day.

The evening was gorgeous, weather-wise, with a temperature of 25 C and no wind. When we walked out to the hot tub, chilled Prosecco in hand, we were enveloped by the smell of lilac. Thick and sweet like a liquor. Devine. Needless to say we slept 9 hours straight and awoke feeling very refreshed. No, not in the hot tub!!

The next morning Anna packed while I went for a walk and then did some yard work for her. We visited her mom’s place (emotional for Anna). It was an action packed but very fruitful day and things went very smoothly and all got done.

The plan was to head over to the airport early and have dinner there. No rush or stress. There was a little confusion as we assumed we would depart from the international terminal. It was like a ghost town and the bag drop off terminals were unmanned and blocked. We decided to go for a drink at the Merriot Hotel Airport thinking the bag drop off terminals would open 2 hours prior to our boarding time. Anna enjoyed a lovely red wine and I had a gin and tonic (a now favourite cocktail after my Africa trips). We went back to the bag drop but again it was deserted. Thankfully one employee was present who informed us that we would have to go to the domestic terminal as we were connecting through Halifax!

Sometimes the best ideas are developed in bars! While we were enjoying our drinks we decided for the remainder of the trip Anna would be known as Anna Murphy (to reflect her true Irish heritage) and she would come up with a new name/persona daily for me! Check out her choices with each daily blog!

We got through security easily but not after discovering my Nexus card had expired last year! Too many things to stay on top of! I would deal with it when I got back.

We had a quick dinner on the “other side” and then boarded our plane. We both had unrealistic expectations that we would sleep on the overnight flight even though our history of this never having happened previously argued against this preferred outcome. Faith is a strong thing!

Yeah, it did not happen! Thankfully, we had enough foresight to book a dayroom in Halifax.

We arrived early Thursday morning in Halifax and cabbed it to our dayroom hotel. We asked for an early check in but that would not happen for another 2 hours so we found a quaint local breakfast place a 15 minute walk from our hotel. It was called the Ardmore Tea Room and looked straight out of the 1960’s!! Great food and so reasonably priced. I enjoyed the cod cakes with sweet relish chow (a maritime favourite), home made baked beans and poached eggs while Anna had French toast with handpicked local blueberry syrup. Yum!

We were both tired so we retired back to our hotel for a sleep. No touring in Halifax today. Sleep was essential as we likely had another sleepless overnight flight tonight. I had a great power nap for 4 hours while Anna didn’t sleep as expected. She was so disappointed. I reassured her all would be okay.

We had a nice early dinner close to our hotel at Freeman’s Little New York and then headed back to the airport by cab.

We would have to come back and enjoy Halifax more fully in the future. We had not been here for 28 years and so much had changed. A quick “hop” this time but we will return in the future to more fully enjoy it’s East Coast charms.

Would we sleep tonight on the second of our overnight flights? Would it matter? Dublin tomorrow and the start of another excellent adventure regardless. Cheers from Halifax!

Final Day

I awoke after a good sleep. That 20 km ski yesterday had worked it’s charm. I had gone back to the Truffle Pig last night and had the most wonderful baked Mac and Cheese with chicken apple sausage and duck confit. Yum! I also picked up a pound of dark roasted coffee from Nelson BC the pub was selling.

A quick shower followed. Then as I packed up, I had a nice cup of hot green tea. Before I knew it, I was off. The plan was to stop for breakfast in Lake Louise and then go for a snowshoe up to Rockbound Lake. I had been there before a few years back with Dave, my friend, but we never quite made it all the way up to Rockbound Lake itself.

Breakfast was hastily eaten and I picked up some sandwiches for lunch.

The drive was pleasant. It felt warmer today compared to yesterday. Yeah!

I arrived at trail head about 9:30 AM and was surprised that I was the only one there. Oh well, all the better for me!

I got quickly geared up and off I went, at least, that’s what I thought! I was quite happy to put my new trekking poles to the rest, but, they kept collapsing. Had I picked up a dud set? A quick look allayed my fears as I recognized that the tension knobs on all of the flip locks were loose. A quick tightening of all the knobs and finally I was good to go!

The first 6-6.5 km of this snowshoe was in the trees with no views and was up, and up followed by more up! The snow was pretty shallow on the bottom half but progressively got deeper and better as I ascended. Elevation kind of works that way.

The first glimpses of Mount Eisenhower peaked through the trees. Once I got up to the upper valley the views were spectacular.

Numerous snow ghosts and the frozen, attenuated yellow needles of larches greeted me. I was surprised by the number of larches with retained needles. I must remember to come back here in the fall!

I circumvented Tower Lake and then began a short, but very steep, ascent of the head wall beneath Rockbound Lake.

Before I knew it, the entire expanse of Rockbound Lake (well named) opened up before me. Spectacular! I found a rock to sit on “lakeside” and greedily enjoyed my sandwich as my eyes darted back and forth trying to take the whole amphitheatre of rock in before me.

I started to get a bit cold and really needed to get back so off I went. I looked forward to the downhill trek after so much climbing.

As I got back to the Tower Lake Valley beneath Rockbound Lake, the most gentle snow flurries began punctuated by sunlight breaking through. So beautiful.

The remainder of the way down, sun greeted me at every switchback corner. The snow beneath my snowshoes had softened considerably. I was pretty sure though that someone had moved the trail head further away as it seemed like a long time before this lovely snowshoe trek ended. Ah……the tricks of the mind!

Still no one in the parking lot when I arrived back. I was truly blessed to have had this trail to myself today. In the end, it had been 17.4 km under 4:30 hours with 839 m of elevation gain. Not bad for a recovery activity.

What a great weekend! I again counted myself lucky to be fortunate enough to be able to have such adventures . I truly consider myself blessed.

Home beckoned and I answered the call. Until next time.

A Great Day!

I had a really good sleep! I must have been tired. I got up, showered, shaved and made my way to the Truffle Pig right at 8 AM opening time. I was the first customer. They must have still been recovering from the jam session last night.

The latte was very good and I had the “My Way” breakfast- just right- 2 poached eggs, a ratti patti, baguette, 3 rasters of bacon and micro-greens. Yum!

After breakfast, I took a few photos around Field. Much easier to do when it is light. A very quaint village! I included a few photos of my accommodation as well.

I made my way back to Lake Louise at a leisurely pace and stopped in at Wilson’s for an area map. After some hemming and hawing, I decided on the Great Divide XC trail. It was likely to be less busy and was relatively flat (I thought) and long. A good way to spend a few hours. It was definitely chillier than yesterday but I figured the exertion would warm me up.

I made my way to the parking lot which was full and the sled dogs from Kingmik Sled Dog Tours were there. The Great Divide Road is converted to a multi-use trail in winter. It has opposing single track sets, a ski skating lane in the middle and a dog sled lane on the far left. The conditions were excellent and once on the trail it was not very busy despite the fullness of the parking lot.

I glided away easily for about 6 km enjoying the antics and protestations of the children with their parents. I stopped for a nice view before a moderately steep downhill.

Once I descended, the Great Divide marker appeared. It sounds very nice to say I skied from Alberta to BC!

I was originally going to stop at the Great Divide but felt good and carried on. I had to stop for an iconic photograph of a train blaring past the foot of a snow covered mountain. Lovely!

I soon reached my turn around point just prior to the Lake O’Hara parking lot, about 10 km.

Coming back seemed like it was mostly uphill. For some reason, I felt I needed to do the entire distance back without stopping. I was happy to see the parking lot. I completed a respectable 20 km. My right foot (yes, still an issue) complained and was happy for me to remove the ski boots at the end.

After packing up, I went back up to the Fairmont Lake Louise Hotel hoping to grab a quick bite, but, decided just to tour the hotel as it was quite busy. I paused by the shoreline for a few photos (I wondered how many cameras have taken exactly the same photographs over the years?).

Next, I stopped in at Deer Lodge thinking this would be a nice place for lunch, but alas, it was not to be! The front desk staff person said the restaurant would not be open until 4 PM. Argh……! I was famished after that XC ski and remembered the restaurant at the HI Hostel Lake Louise. It has always served good food at a reasonable price. I was not disappointed and that wheat ale accompanying lunch went down very easily! Unfortunately, all of this searching for a place to eat resulted in a later lunch than I had hoped.

Next, I wanted to find the village start point for the Tramline XC ski trail. I might do that trail tomorrow (or snowshoe again with those fancy, spanking new trekking poles I acquired yesterday). It was not hard to find and had a lovely bridge with nice views of the partially frozen Bow River.

I then decided to head back to the Baker Creek Resort to check out their new Bistro along the Bow Valley Parkway. Last time Anna and I were there last year it was closed for renovations, much to our displeasure!

Along the way, I stopped for a photo of Morant’s Curve- an iconic location to get a train photo- but alas, no train whilst I was there.

I arrived and had a quick look at the Baker Creek Bistro- very nice! I thought I might eat dinner there, but, I was still full from my late lunch. Too bad- perhaps breakfast tomorrow morning? I walked up the parkway a bit to find the trailhead for the Baker Creek to Protection Mountain XC Trail. There was definitely less snow here compared to Lake Louise despite only being 11 km east. I am happy I decided to ski/snowshoe in the Lake Louise area.

I had a leisurely drive back to Field and stopped at the bridge to catch the last vestiges of daylight disappearing below the mountain tops. Beautiful!

I toured around the village and found a lovely backroad that would make for a nice run, but, not tonight.

I retired back to my abode and pondered if I was hungry enough to have a light dinner at the Truffle Pig this evening?

Tomorrow I will either snowshoe (Rockbound Lake or Chester Lake in K Country) or XC ski the Tramline Trail from the village bottom up to Lake Louise and back before returning home. A good night’s sleep will help me decide. I really do want to try out those new poles!

A Small Break…. not too far “a Field”

An extended weekend became available, so, I decided to head out to the Lake Louise area for a mini mental health break.

Work continues to be very busy with many changes. I was up early this Friday morning but was quite fatigued.

I had a bunch of paper work, accounting and packing to do and get out later than I had hoped to. Sigh……..!

After a quick pop-in to the office, I was on my way. The roads were clear and not too busy. Perfect. The tunes wafted out of the dashboard speakers and I felt myself relaxing.

I stopped for a quick snack at Vermilion Lakes outside Banff. It was quiet and peaceful.

I then turned off the main highway on to Highway 1A continuing the theme of relaxation. It was a beautiful drive. I always stop at Castle Junction by the bridge to admire the view of Castle Mountain. The light was nice this early afternoon.

I next arrived in Lake Louise and it was very quiet for a Friday (I am not complaining as it is always so busy every time I’ve come here before). I found out there were many activities planned for this weekend with the opening World Cup Downhill Ski race being held at Lake Louise Resort. Great!

I decided to do a snowshoe trek and chose the Highline Trail. Numerous snow covered trees, nicely packed trail and no wind. The kilometres passed quickly. I decided to do a loop instead of an out and back so I could check out the Moraine Lake Road for cross-country skiing possibilities later this weekend. It was track set and the snow conditions were great! Good to know.

On the way back, I had a major trekking pole catastrophe! One of the sections came loose and could not be repaired in the field. Argh……..! I really needed these poles for the remainder of the weekend, so, a little shopping trip to Wilson’s Sporting Goods in Lake Louise Village would be required when I finished my trek. On the way back I had nice views of Lake Louise Ski Resort.

I finished the trek by returning on the Teamline Trail off Moraine Lake Road and had a nice view of Mount Fairview as I approached Lake Louise.

I got back to my truck and found a great set of trekking poles at Wilson’s and they were on sale. Sweet!

I decided to stay in Field BC which is about 27 km west of Lake Louise as it is quieter and I love the small village feel. They have a great restaurant called the “Truffle Pig” which I remembered well from my last Golden Triangle cycle trip a few years ago.

I did not expect to have trouble finding my accommodation in Field of all places, but I did. I arrived after sunset and the Inn I was staying at had no lights on and really looked like a house. I drove by it three times before I finally stopped out front to get a closer look as Luke-the owner- called out my name walking his very large dog home. The dog was very friendly (a 2 year old Rottweiler cross) who promptly sat on my feet effectively pinning me to the ground demanding pettings for the next 10 minutes as I spoke to Luke. He was very friendly man who thanked me profusely for staying at his place. You’re welcome! The suite was huge and nicely appointed. I really liked the vibe of the place which was advertised as “adult only” which provided me with a good chuckle.

I quickly brought my gear in and took off to the Truffle Pig for an excellent dinner meal. I was famished, but, was soon satiated. Yum!

A really good live blues band- the Usual Suspects-was playing in the bar so I stayed for awhile enjoying the Friday Night groove. I like any band that plays Van Morrison!

I returned to my suite and did a short session of yoga before falling asleep in that voluminous king bed!

More winter sport activities awaited tomorrow……….

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