Reflections and images from my travels

Archive for the ‘Photo Slideshow’ Category

Devon and Cornwall

Most of our Africa group was now gathered and we were on our way to spend some time in Devon and Cornwall. It was Friday, August 7, 2015. It was nice to meet up with Teresa, Andy, Lorraine and Anna again. Andy had graciously driven all the way from Devon to pick us up from Heathrow. We had previously offered to take the train but Andy was having none of it. He certainly is a glutton for punishment. Driving on England’s highways is not what I would call relaxing with all of the traffic and he had to put up with us for hours of driving back! I was quite the chatterbox and think I kept everyone entertained with stories of our previous adventures as well as my most recent travels for the drive back.

The plan for the weekend was to spend time with Scotty, Andy, the other Lorraine [Scotty’s significant other] as well as Nick. This was Scotty’s and Andy’s neck of the woods and we were happy to explore it with them. They had arranged several social gatherings and adventures for us for the time that we were there. Bless them! I had never previously traveled to this part of England and was looking forward to it.

Andy dropped us off at our accommodation which was a lovely refurbished old farmhouse [the Plantation House Hotel, Ivy Bridge] that was now a high-end restaurant and beautiful hotel. It was also located very close to Nick’s estate. It was a lovely hotel located on verdant, pastoral farmlands. We immediately felt at home. We settled ourselves and then got ready for a home cooked meal that was going to be prepared by the other Lorraine at Nick’s estate. Lorraine loved to cook and had a special affinity for Thai cuisine. Nick’s estate was expansive and was still being farmed with contracted farmers. Nick was still involved with puttering around the estate, pursuing retirement activities such as hunting, shooting, lamping [look it up] and wood work. He also had a beautiful boat [a very fast and sleek rib] which he loved to take guests out on. Lucky for us! His estate was located close to the Plymouth harbour.

Engaging conversation followed in the great room of the beautiful main farmhouse. Lorraine was the perfect hostess and offered us our choice of drinks to help lubricate the conversation. I have never enjoyed gin, however, when in England one must do what the Brits do so I graciously accepted a gin and tonic prepared by Lorraine using the local Plymouth gin as the rest of my travel mates did. Wow! That was the most amazing gin concoction I have ever had. Needless to say we were all hooked and this became the drink of choice for the remainder of our England visit as well as our subsequent African adventure. The meal that Lorraine prepared was fantastic. What an introduction to this part of England! I must say it was one of the best meals that I ever had. There is nothing like a home-cooked meal prepared by a cook with capability who really wishes to share her talents with eager dinner mates. It was a fantastic evening filled with laughter and the perfect tonic to the always challenging travel day. We returned relatively late to our hotel and fell into well deserved sleep.

We were up relatively early the next morning to enjoy a beautiful breakfast prepared at the hotel. As mentioned previously, this hotel had a superb restaurant and certainly they lived up to their reputation in terms of the quality of the food. Andy picked us up after breakfast and then we went to Nick’s estate and then proceeded with his boat to the Plymouth harbour for our tour up the coastline. Teresa had been on Nick’s boat the previous year and had certainly regaled us with stories of how much fun it was. We were excited. His boat is extremely powerful and fast and we were all hoping for calm seas so that we could really experience how fast it could go. We were rewarded with excellent weather and very little wind and even Teresa was allowed to drive the boat under Nick’s tutelage. That boat was fast! We had great fun touring the refurbished Plymouth harbour as well as zooming up the coast and stopping for a fantastic pub lunch and walking tour of Fowey. What a quaint seaside village! We visited a photographic gallery of a friend of Scotty’s inspiring us as photographers. He had some wonderful wildlife photographs that we would have been privileged to have captured. On the way back to Plymouth we visited the Eddystone lighthouse. This lighthouse is located on the dangerous Eddystone Rocks. The current structure is the fourth to be built on the site.

Nick's beautiful estate farmhouse, Devon England

Nick’s beautiful estate farmhouse, Devon England

Nick's beautiful estate farmhouse with rib, Devon England

Nick’s beautiful estate farmhouse with rib, Devon England

Nick... oh Captain my Captain on his rib, Plymouth Harbour England

Nick… oh Captain my Captain on his rib, Plymouth Harbour England

View of the Royal Citadel on Plymouth Hoe from the Plymouth harbour

View of the Royal Citadel on Plymouth Hoe from the Plymouth harbour

Teresa, newly appointed captain, looking radiant on Nick's rib

Teresa, newly appointed captain, looking radiant on Nick’s rib

View from the rib Fowey harbour

View from the rib Fowey harbour

A private joke- one of Scotty's photographer friend's photographs from his gallery in Fowey in case we did not get a leopard shot in Africa

A private joke- one of Scotty’s photographer friend’s photographs from his gallery in Fowey in case we did not get a leopard shot in Africa

Eddystone Lighthouse, Plymouth harbour

Eddystone Lighthouse, Plymouth harbour

Soon we were back at the Plymouth harbour and then back at Nick’s estate. It had been a wonderful day and Nick had been so gracious to offer us the use of his boat. We were dropped off back at the hotel to relax for the remainder of the afternoon and prepare for that evening’s birthday celebration for Scotty which would be celebrated at the excellent restaurant at our hotel. We all got dressed up and enjoyed some gin and tonics at the hotel [we tried several variations and decided that either Blue Sapphire or Tanqueray gin with lemon and not cucumber was the best] before the arrival of the other guests. We had a wonderful birthday celebration and heartily toasted Scotty. Sleep came easily that night.

Scotty's birthday party- Plantation House Hotel, Ivy Bridge Devon

Scotty’s birthday party- Plantation House Hotel, Ivy Bridge Devon

The next morning, after another stellar breakfast, involved a driving tour with Andy and Scotty of Dartmoor. Dartmoor is an area of moorland in South Devon, England. Protected by National Park status as Dartmoor National Park, it covers 954 km². The moorland is capped with many exposed granite hilltops known as tors, providing habitats for Dartmoor wildlife. The highest point is High Willhays, 621 m above sea level. The entire area is rich in antiquities and archaeology. It was very dark and grey and somewhat gloomy which provided the perfect mood for the moors tour. I simply cannot imagine the moors being bright and sunny. We had the opportunity to take some photographs. Scotty also related some of his early experiences to us spent on the moors. As I recall, it did involve the consumption of expanding fungi! We then drove off to Cornwall to an adventure centre in order to go down a zip line. Anna and I were paired up as well as Teresa and Andy. Lorraine and Scotty had no interest in zip lining. We all had a blast even though Anna completely smoked me in terms of speed on the zip line.

Artistic, backlit photograph- Devon, England

Artistic, backlit photograph- Devon, England

Birding with Scotty, Nick's estate- Devon England

Birding with Scotty, Nick’s estate- Devon England

Artistic black-and-white photograph- tour of Devon and Cornwall

Artistic black-and-white photograph- tour of Devon and Cornwall

Anna and Steve prepare to zip line, Cornwall England

Anna and Steve prepare to zip line, Cornwall England

Lovely creek-tour of Devon and Cornwall

Lovely creek-tour of Devon and Cornwall

That afternoon we went back to Nick’s estate for a huge barbecue with roast boar prepared in a homemade spit [yum… crackling I can hear my coronary arteries saying], excellent conversation with invited guests as well as skeet shooting. These are certainly things we do not do very often at home in Calgary. Here, however, it is a common occurrence and builds strong social ties amongst the surrounding estate owners and friends. There is such a wonderful culture of community and generosity here. Little did we know that we Canadians where the guests of honour and everyone wanted to speak to us! We also met a physician- Dr. David- who had brought along his Merlin and was happy to explain the ins and outs of falconry and his particular bird to us. Teresa was smitten with this bird and even got to hold it. Scotty and Andy both owned birds and had been involved involved with falconry for many years. I have never been a fan of guns, but, I must admit I really enjoyed the opportunity to participate in skeet shooting even though my skills left something to be desired. Everyone was very supportive and we found out that our Lorraine had superior gun shooting skills. I think it even came as a surprise to her! There was also a home-made device for target shooting that involved a metal “boar” running back and forth down a rail track. I rapidly determined that if I was responsible for providing the boar for a future barbecue that everyone would go hungry. It was all great fun and we thoroughly enjoyed ourselves. Nick is such an engaging, gracious and generous man. He welcomed us openly, despite his wry comments made with a smile, and really insured that we enjoyed our time in this beautiful part of England. New friendships were forged. We returned back to the hotel with a wonderful memories and full bellies relatively early as we had to leave early the next morning to drive back to Heathrow to hop on a plane and fly down to Africa. Andy would not be joining us but Scotty would be.

Steve skeet shooting… somewhat poorly, as Nick's grandson looks on- Nick's estate Devon

Steve skeet shooting… somewhat poorly, as Nick’s grandson looks on- Nick’s estate Devon

Lorraine happy with her skeet shooting performance- Nick's estate, Devon

Lorraine happy with her skeet shooting performance- Nick’s estate, Devon

Anna skeet shooting- Nick's estate, Devon

Anna skeet shooting- Nick’s estate, Devon

Lorraine skeet shooting- Nick's estate, Devon

Lorraine skeet shooting- Nick’s estate, Devon

Scotty and Nick's grandson carving barbecued wild boar- Nick's estate, Devon

Scotty and Nick’s grandson carving barbecued wild boar- Nick’s estate, Devon

Physician guest's falcon- Nick's estate, Devon

Physician guest’s falcon- Nick’s estate, Devon

Physician guest's falcon posing- Nick's estate, Devon

Physician guest’s falcon posing- Nick’s estate, Devon

Teresa is in love, Physician guest's falcon- Nick's estate, Devon

Teresa is in love, Physician guest’s falcon- Nick’s estate, Devon

As Homer would say hmmmmmmm...........roast, suckling pig- Nick's estate, Devon England

As Homer would say hmmmmmmm………..roast, suckling pig- Nick’s estate, Devon England

The next morning came much too early as we all packed into Andy’s truck with all of our gear. It was so full that unfortunately Scotty had to ride in the back with all of our gear which didn’t appear to be that comfortable. We said our heartfelt goodbyes to the other Lorraine and drove off to Heathrow. There we extended further goodbyes and thanks to Andy who had also contributed greatly to our time spent in Devon and Cornwall. It was time to get on with the next phase of our adventures….. Africa! We boarded the plane with high expectations. Would they be realized?

Welcoming Wales!

I slept well, that first night, back in Manchester, England. I knew the frustration of leaving France contributed, but, I had turned the page and was looking forward to my time with Mike and Karen.

Because of the delay in getting my checked luggage returned, we decided just to stay and enjoy the day in Manchester. The weather was much cooler and rainy but I loved it having just had so much heat and sun in France. I don’t think Mike and Karen believed me, but, it was true.

Manchester has gone through a revitalization over the last several years after a terrible IRA bombing in 1996. The 1996 Manchester bombing was an attack carried out by the Provisional Irish Republican Army (IRA) on Saturday 15 June 1996 in Manchester, England. The 3,300-pound (1,500 kg) bomb, placed in a van on Corporation Street in Manchester city centre, targeted the city’s infrastructure and economy and caused widespread damage, estimated by insurers at £700 million (£1.2 billion as of 2015). The IRA had sent telephoned warnings about 90 minutes before the bomb detonated. The area was evacuated, but the bomb squad were unable to defuse the bomb in time. Two hundred and twelve people were injured, but there were no fatalities.

Several buildings near the explosion were damaged beyond repair and had to be demolished, while many more were closed for months for structural repairs. Most of the rebuilding work was completed by the end of 1999, at a cost of £1.2 billion, although redevelopment continued until 2005.

My, how Manchester has recovered! What a great city with beautiful old buildings, fantastic canals (Google canal boat tours…it’s a thing!), museums, libraries, great pubs and restaurants. The downtown felt alive. We had a great visit. When we returned, I confirmed through the courier tracking system that my yellow spectrum sport bag was now in their system and would arrive at an ETA of 10 PM that evening. We did not want to miss the delivery as someone had to be present to accept the bag so we had a great home cooked meal prepared by my hosts with plenty of good conversation and wine. We were thrilled when the wayward bag arrived at 8 PM. We greeted it like an old friend but, alas, it was too late to drive out to Wales that evening. We decided to leave early the next morning for our journey. I emailed my other friends, who I would visit immediately afterwards, to tell them about our delay of one day. It all worked out as Mike and Karen had booked off work until Wednesday and my other friends were happy to have me arrive later Tuesday instead of early Tuesday as we had planned originally. My travel karma had returned!

The next morning arrived and we were off to North Wales. My host’s cottage was in Harlech which was about a two and a half hour drive from Manchester. We planned to do a long walk that day in the mountains close to Harlech so it would be a long day but we were all full of enthusiasm. The drive was very relaxing and I didn’t even realize when we had crossed into this country I had always wanted to visit. The only hints were the bilingual road/place signs, progressively narrower roads and the multitude of sheep!

Harlech is a town and seaside resort in Gwynedd, within the historical boundaries of Meirionnydd in northwest Wales. Lying on Tremadog Bay and within the Snowdonia National Park, it has a population of 1,447, of whom 51% speak Welsh. The town is located in the unitary authority of Gwynedd which was formed in 1996, from 1974 to 1996 it was in the Meirionydd District of the 1974 County of Gwynedd, and before 1974 it was in the historic county of Merionethshire.
The town is best known for the landmark Harlech Castle, begun in 1283 by Edward I of England, captured by Owain Glyndŵr, and later the stronghold of Henry Tudor. The castle was originally built next to the sea, but geological processes have changed the shape of the coastline, and the castle now lies on a cliff face, about half a mile (800 m) inland. The town has since developed with housing estates on the flat low town area and hillside properties in the high town around the shopping street, church, and castle. The two areas are linked by a steep and winding road called “Twtil”.

We arrived at my host’s aptly named “Castle View” cottage (very quaint and my idea of perfection for a holiday home) and we quickly prepared for our long walk.

Y Llethr & Diffwys from Dyffryn Ardudwy was the walk that Mike and Karen had chosen. Trailhead was about 15 minutes, by car, from the cottage. It was 18.7 km in length with an ascent of 932 meters with a moderate to hard grade. Y Llethr and Diffwys (the two highest points) were the highlights of this Snowdonia walk. Starting from Dyffryn Ardudwy, this ridge walk connects some of the summits in the southern part of the Rhinog mountains, which are known for their greener and less rugged character when compared with the rugged northern Rhinogs. There were so many stone walls and even an old “London Road” that we passed. There were quite a few fellow hikers and even dirt bikers (it was a long weekend after all!) we passed along the way. I had chosen to wear my trainers because I felt hiking boots were not required. That was a mistake! It rains a lot here and the “spongy underfoot”, as it is described in the guide books we brought along, can really be translated to very wet bog. The views were great and, most importantly, we did not get rained on as it had been threatening when we started the hike. The sun actually came out for most of the hike and we could see the nearby mountains of Snowdonia and we even saw Snowdon. I actually got a little sunburn on the top of my head (I know, shocking with my full head of hair!) because I was not expecting sun here. I joked to my hosts that I was going to email my French hosts afterwards to tell them I had deepened my French tan whilst in Wales!

Stone wall, Wales

Stone wall, Wales

 Rocky stone path, hike Wales

Rocky stone path, hike Wales

 Mike and Karen on the trail, Wales

Mike and Karen on the trail, Wales

 Stone wall that seems to go on forever, Wales

Stone wall that seems to go on forever, Wales

Beautiful, verdant green pastures, Wales

Beautiful, verdant green pastures, Wales

Mike and Karen pondering our next move, Wales

Mike and Karen pondering our next move, Wales

Stiles- how you get over stone walls, Wales

Stiles- how you get over stone walls, Wales

We had a great pub meal, after a clean up back at the cottage, in Barmouth. A great pub and I did get my requisite fish and chips meal. We returned back to the cottage for a tea and a well deserved sleep.

The plan the next day was to hike in Snowdonia. Mike and Karen had chosen Cnicht (“Knight” in Welsh) which took us on some very narrow and windy roads that thankfully were not heavily traveled to reach trailhead. The hike was about 11-12 km long and you got up to a height of 689 m. It was much more similar to the hikes I do in Canada and I loved it; except for the end. Once we had completed the high peak, Mike and Karen told me they had done this hike several times before but always had trouble with the end of it (they actually told me this before the hike but I thought nothing of it). Once, they had found themselves on the top of a very steep cliff looking down on the path they should have been on and the other times they ended up on very indistinct paths with trouble getting back to the lane which was the exit point. They wanted to get the exit “right” this time. We thought we had done very well when we found the correct path around the cliffs and the side descent slope and could see our objective. The problem is no real “path” exists despite Karen having a GPS showing a distinct OS path. The way down was full of deep boggy, wet ground (I was thrilled I brought my waterproof boots this time) and even though the GPS showed us on the path at times we kept going off of it and ending up in rather dodgy areas. Close to the exit you get into farmland with many stone walls that could box you in as well as true private land even though there is right of access you must not abuse this. At the very end we were so frustrated we just walked out on the farmer’s road track even though this would be considered trespassing. We got back to the lane and had to walk a half mile back to our car. Despite the ending, it was a great hike but by the time we exited we were 2 hours behind schedule and had to truncate our plans to visit Croesor. We tried to get into a nice restaurant in Borth-Y-Gest but we were out of luck- all booked. We planned to go back to the cottage and make dinner, but, when we arrived there Karen said “let’s just go out for dinner in Harlech”.  There was no opposition. We had a great dinner but the server warned us of strong winds and rain the following day. We returned to the cottage afterwards to try and look at the guide maps to see how we could have exited better from Cnicht, but, decided this was not possible and this approach would not be attempted again. There was another approach from Croeser to the top and this would be the preferred approach in the future.

Cnicht trail sign, Snowdonia Wales

Cnicht trail sign, Snowdonia Wales

Steve approaching the summit of Cnicht, Wales

Steve approaching the summit of Cnicht, Wales

A lovely photo of Mike and Karen as we approach the summit of Cnicht, Wales

A lovely photo of Mike and Karen as we approach the summit of Cnicht, Wales

A view off the summit of Cnicht, Wales

A view off the summit of Cnicht, Wales

Steve on the summit of Cnicht, Wales

Steve on the summit of Cnicht, Wales

The beautiful descent off of Cnicht, Wales

The beautiful descent off of Cnicht, Wales

The next morning, as predicted by the waitress, was gray and very windy with rain. It was definitely stormy. We walked down to the beach as waves crashed in. It was very dramatic! Our original plan was to walk along the beach, then, proceed up the walkway which would connect to a trail which would take us above town and then back to the cottage. This was not meant to be! When we got to the end of the beach the waves were crashing so violently we could have been swept away trying to reach the small stairway up to the path. Instead, we decided to walk back along the beach towards Harlech Castle. Mike and Karen went back to the cottage in order to prepare for our departure and I went into the Castle for a tour. Fascinating! That history that occurred in this very Castle. I was able to grab a few pictures despite the inclement weather and then went back to the cottage. We departed and had a very relaxing drive back to England. Mike offered to drop me off at train station in Chorley, which was my pick up point for the next stage of my adventure, Instead of driving back to Manchester and taking the train to Chorley. So thoughtful!

The stormy beach, Harlech Wales

The stormy beach, Harlech Wales

Others walking the beach, Harlech Wales

Others walking the beach, Harlech Wales

Rocky beach, Harlech Wales

Rocky beach, Harlech Wales

Harlech Castle exterior, Harlech Wales

Harlech Castle exterior, Harlech Wales

Harlech Castle entrance, Harlech Wales

Harlech Castle entrance, Harlech Wales

Harlech Castle exterior, Harlech Wales

Harlech Castle exterior, Harlech Wales

Harlech Castle exterior, Harlech Wales

Harlech Castle exterior, Harlech Wales

Harlech Castle exterior, Harlech Wales

Harlech Castle exterior, Harlech Wales

Family enjoying together time- Harlech Castle interior, Harlech Wales

Family enjoying together time- Harlech Castle interior, Harlech Wales

Mossy rock and stone- Harlech Castle interior, Harlech Wales

Mossy rock and stone- Harlech Castle interior, Harlech Wales

Mossy rock and stone- Harlech Castle interior, Harlech Wales

Mossy rock and stone- Harlech Castle interior, Harlech WalesWill wi

Even though the trip was relatively short, I thoroughly enjoyed my visit with Mike and Karen and northern Wales. It was all I hoped it would be. I am also very thankful I met Mike and Karen previously in Peru. This is certainly one of the blessings awarded to you when you travel. You meet the most amazing people who often share similar views and interests. Certainly, Mike and Karen are perfect examples of this. I again thank them for their companionship and hospitality. I hope they will be able to travel to Calgary to visit so I can return the favour in the future.

My next adventure involved rock climbing with Richard and Dave, my friends from Canmore. Over the last 2 to 3 years I have been encouraged by them to take up rock climbing so I can join them on some of their adventures. I must admit I have had some trepidations about this. Rock climbing has never been my thing. So much so that I took a climbing course this year so that I would be better prepared! Did it help? Read on!

Farewell to France……

I am back! I know it has been about 2 weeks since I last posted. What can I say? I continue to have fun.

Last time I blogged, I was in Florac and had to make my way home to Bormes. It was going to be by bus and train. Just before I got on the bus in Florac I snapped a picture of the mountain above the town. A fond memory after my wonderful trek.

Mountain coming out of the mist, Florac

Mountain coming out of the mist, Florac

I returned to Bormes without incident but did witness a very drunk woman on the train from Marseille to Toulon. Despite what we think of the normalization and appropriate use of alcohol in France, alcoholism is a problem.

I was picked up at the train station in Toulon by Glenn and Maysan (after an interlude where we sat across the street from each other for 1 hour!). At that time they informed me that their son would be playing a soccer tournament in Sweden and they were going to attend. They would leave that Saturday July 25th and would return on July 30th with their son Iskander. I would drive to Nice early on the 25th to drop off Glenn and Maysan and I would spend a half day there to tour and then I would have their car (yes!) and the run of the villa. The next morning the 22-year-old son of an acquaintance of theirs, Jeremy, would arrive to spend some time after touring Europe. Also, another friend of Glenn’s, Nic, would be arriving from Calgary on July 27th AND their daughter Yasmeen and her first cousin Nigel were arriving from Calgary and Vancouver respectively on July 28th. I did wonder if they really were going to Sweden for a factitious tournament (just kidding).

I was a little tired and beat up after the trek, so, it was going to be a relaxing week. On July 23rd I blogged and blogged to catch up as the internet at the villa is “temperamental” and I seemed to have it’s attention and I was able to finish the blog about Corsica and the trek (you are welcome). I felt like a huge weight was lifted off my shoulders and now I could just……relax!

Relax I did! I had plenty of pool time and we attended a nice birthday party for a friend of Glenn’s and Maysan’s at a lovely beach side restaurant and enjoyed a huge plate of lobster and spaghetti. Yum! It was quite a late evening and their was a little too much wine.

The next morning came too early. I drove Maysan and Glenn to the airport in Nice and had a nice tour through old town and up to the panoramic overlook for a picture of the very long beach and promenade.

Promenade des Anglais, Nice

Promenade des Anglais, Nice

I drove back to Bormes and Jeremy and I went to a kickboxing championship in Le Lavandou. We did have a glitch. It was advertised to be on the main beach but when we arrived there was no one there! I went to a local retailer trying to find out where it was being held and after a rather comical demonstration by me of kickboxing he was able to tell us the location. We arrived a little late but were surprised by the flock of Ferrari’s just outside the venue. It was an “interesting” evening. I am not a fan of men beating each other senseless. However, it was entertaining and I was impressed by how the referees controlled the match and stepped in to stop a couple of them because of injury, and in the case of the headline match, because one opponent was getting pummelled.

All went well with the pick ups early the following week. The subsequent days involved getting up early to do a bike ride before it got too hot, hikes to Notre Dame de Constance and lying around the pool and reading as well as stretching on a pad in the back garden in the afternoon. Now this is a life I could get used to! It was a pleasure having all of the company around and especially the younger guests. Nic and I were like parents cooking dinners and arranging the days for all. I just wish we had better luck finding and buying take away roast chicken for dinner (private joke)!

 

 

Glenn, Maysan and Iskander returned mid-afternoon on July 30th. We were one big happy family and had a great dinner that night on the patio with take away roast chicken (YES, it is possible). It was nearly a full moon and the sunset was beautiful that night. What a great way to end my time in France.

Almost a full moon (97.2%) on my last night in France

Almost a full moon (97.2%) on my last night in France

The next morning Glenn and Maysan drove me to the airport in Hyeres and I was off to the United Kingdom. They were such great hosts and did so much arranging and driving ensuring that my time in France would be memorable. It certainly was!  I am forever grateful. Thank you so much.

I wondered if Wales could live up to the high standard set by France! Read on to find out.

London Docklands Pictures

Early in the morning of June 29 2015 I took a walk along the Docklands area of Eastern London. Here are a few photos for you to enjoy.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

There is something about foreign signs. I found this one along the London Dockyards. I had a really good laugh. I hope you do too!

Onwards to France!

British Construction Signs.....I leave the interpretation up to you!

British Construction Signs…..I leave the interpretation up to you!

A Glorious Ride!

What a day! I thought I would be fatigued after yesterday’s ordeal. I had a great sleep (that always helps) at the Lake Louise Hostel and this time got an early start at 8:30 AM. It’s not sensible to go too much earlier as it is dark. Much better for cars to hit you. It also warms up the later you go but the price if you leave too late is to run out of daylight.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

As I mentioned in the previous blog, I was able to get to Castle Junction by 10 AM. I seemed to be taken over by some magical force. I felt strong and invigorated. Of course, that magical force may have been the kinder grade and the westerly blowing tailwind but I prefer to believe in magic!

I just sailed, one with the bike. My legs just took over and the road was in great shape so I could just look up and admire the view.

I passed a prescribed burn at Sawbuck near the eastern start of the Bow Valley Parkway. I then flew on the Trans Canada past Banff to Canmore. I know, there is the Legacy Trail from Banff, but, with a fully loaded touring bike the road seemed more appropriate.

Welcome to Canmore

Welcome to Canmore

I had a great lunch and tea (Evelyn, your influence is rubbing off on me) in Canmore (which was open) and called ahead to make sure I would have a campsite at Bow Valley Campground that evening. I did not want a repeat of Lake Louise! They had room for a tent (another advantage of travelling light) but the operator did inform me the campground was full for trailers. Amazing! Calgarians do like to camp and who can blame them with this great fall weather. It is of course a long weekend (I do keep forgetting). Luckily, while in Canmore, I emailed a friend, Richard, who I popped in to visit. Always nice to see him and his girls (including his delightful mum visiting from England) who are much taller than I remember.

I then had a great ride through Exshaw and past a great view of Yamnuska before I turned south on the 1X towards Seebe. Many pictures were taken. The road was quiet.

Art Filter view #4, Bow Valley Parkway

Art Filter view #4, Bow Valley Parkway

Art Filter view #5 Yamnuska, Bow Valley Parkway

Art Filter view #5 Yamnuska, Bow Valley Parkway

View #4 Yamnuska, Bow Valley Parkway

View #4 Yamnuska, Bow Valley Parkway

Art Filter view #6 Yamnuska, Bow Valley Parkway

Art Filter view #6 Yamnuska, Bow Valley Parkway

I pulled into the campground having chewed up 120 km and did it in just over 6 hours. Wow! I felt so energized.

The campground is lovely and as I type, the good ole train is rumbling by right on cue. After a nice dinner, I had a hot shower and will settle into bed soon. I prefer not to use too much artificial light and instead fall into the natural rhythm of the day/night.

Evening view of Yamnuska, Bow Valley Campground

Evening view of Yamnuska, Bow Valley Campground

Golden hour Bow Valley River and rocks, Bow Valley Campground #1

Golden hour Bow Valley River and rocks, Bow Valley Campground #1

Golden hour Bow Valley River and rocks and Yamnuska, Bow Valley Campground #2

Golden hour Bow Valley River and rocks and Yamnuska, Bow Valley Campground #2

Golden hour Bow Valley River and rocks, Bow Valley Campground #3

Golden hour Bow Valley River and rocks, Bow Valley Campground #3

Golden hour Bow Valley River and rocks, Bow Valley Campground #4

Golden hour Bow Valley River and rocks, Bow Valley Campground #4

Golden hour Bow Valley River and rocks, Bow Valley Campground #5

Golden hour Bow Valley River and rocks, Bow Valley Campground #5

What a great trip this has been. Challenging yet affirming that I can still do these things. The bike is truly one of man’s/woman’s greatest inventions.

Tomorrow I will finish my trip by riding from Seebe through Cochrane and back home along the remainder of the Bow Valley Parkway. Do yourself a favour, if you have time and are not rushing west on the Trans Canada, take the slower, more considered route of the 1A. You will not be disappointed! Until tomorrow………

Golden Triangle….the saga continues!

Hi all! I left Radium Hot Springs this morning. I awoke to frost on the tent but I was nice and toasty in my tent. It is an ultralight Easton 1 Kilo aptly named as this is how much it weighs. Amazing! My sleeping bag is a Western Mountaineering Versalight. It is light and very versatile. It lives up to it’s advertising. It sits on top of my Exped 7 down sleeping pad. As warm, but not quite as comfy, as my own bed. The black bear did not get me although he did have a chance later in the day (foreshadowing).

Beautiful farmhouse along Highway #95

Beautiful farmhouse along Highway #95

Beautiful morning fog along Highway #95

Beautiful morning fog along Highway #95

Close-up farmhouse along Highway #95

Close-up farmhouse along Highway #95

What the hay? Highway #95

What the hay? Highway #95

The second leg of the Golden Triangle is very different from the other two. There is no big pass. The grade is rolling but not flat. It is very pastoral with beautiful mountains on either side with ranch land and a very long water land management area running 270 miles through the Columbia Valley. You pass Mount Ethelbert (at the forefront of Bugaboo Park) whose top is lightly frosted with snow. The trees are still in fall colour bloom here as this valley is always warmer than the eastern slopes of the Rockies. You just peddle and peddle and admire the expansive views.

Mount Ethelbert along Highway #95

Mount Ethelbert along Highway #95

It is very quiet along the highway at this time. There are logging trucks and everyone local seems to drive a truck. The logging trucks give of the scent of pine as they pass in the opposite direction so they are not entirely unpleasant. The drivers are kind and give plenty of room as there is really no shoulder to speak of. It is best to be just left of the right road market as the road is smooth there.

Nothing is open on this road and everything is for sale. It seems the realtor to have is Bob Tegart who seems to have a monopoly as a real estate agent. You see you notice things like this on a bike.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Again, I had to do without a proper lunch. I was hoping to eat at “The Spilli Bean” but it is seasonal. I tell you those protein bars, beef jerky and almonds just don’t make the mark! I am not keeping up with my caloric expenditure. Oh well, it’s always good to drop a few pounds.

About 13 km out of Golden I looked up and about 100 m in front of me a black bear strode across the highway (a bear’s idea of an extreme sport) and looked at me. The Radium campground bear had followed me! Ha! A car coming from the other direction which encouraged him into the bush and out of sight. Good bear!

It does seem like it takes forever to get to Golden. At least things are open here. I stopped at the Overwaitea to replenish snack supplies. It was warm and 17 C. Wow the weather has been just great! I then did a tour of historic downtown Golden (5 count them 5 minutes) and then proceeded to the local campground. Every campground, and even the chalets I stayed at. have been conveniently placed beside active railway tracks. The goods must be delivered which accounts for at least 3 awakenings during the night!

The campground is lovely and quiet with falling leaves on the tent. I had a hot shower (oh the joy of it) and have settled into my tent to write this blog and then read a bit of my e-book before fatigue envelopes me.

Tomorrow is the tough third leg. Kicking Horse Pass! At least I should be able to get lunch in Field or Lake Loiuse. I am back on Highway 1 on a Friday! If all goes well I should be back at Castle Mountain Junction tomorrow night. Adieu until tomorrow.

Golden Triangle 3.0

After a great nap in a comfy bed at the Castle Mountain chalets, I had a decision to make. I had experienced some adductor cramping the evening after Day 2 and was wondering if I was up for the Golden Triangle or if it was better to just cycle to Field and back. My head said choose the latter and don’t be a fool! This is just a holiday.

My cozy chalet at Castle Mountain Junction

My cozy chalet at Castle Mountain Junction

This morning as I cycled to the junction of Highway 1 I really was meaning to turn west and follow my head but my heart said go towards Highway 93 South. And I did.

Off to the Golden Triangle! Leaving Castle Mountain Junction.

Off to the Golden Triangle! Leaving Castle Mountain Junction.

Castle Mountain

Castle Mountain

I call this trip 3.0 because I am sure I have done it twice years ago with more oomph in the tank and definitely more hair! I recall one of the last attempts with my brother Ed during a hot fall. We did not know what to expect and thought the campgrounds would be open with water available. They were not. I still recall Ed having a psychotic (OK dehydration) meltdown as we climbed towards Olive Lake at the top of Sinclair Pass. I screamed don’t drink the water as he plunged his head into a roadside stream. You will get Giardia! He did not care! Profound thirst had to be quenched. He survived Giardia free. We then descended to Radium Hot Springs where we ravaged (yes, that is correct ravaged) an ice cream cone with worried onlookers.

So here I was. Wanting to conquer this Golden demon again.

The ride up to Vermillion Pass was steady but pleasant. Storm Mountain Lodge is at the top. I am always threatening to stop in but I did not on this occasion. You are rewarded for your hard work with a glorious descent. Weeeee just like coming down Highwood Pass. I stopped at the Continental Divide for some pictures and to rest my forearms ready for the great cycle ahead. You see this is the direction to do the Golden Triangle. Your reward is what appears to be an almost steady descent and/or level cycling at quite a clip for what seems forever. The best feeling in the world as the Kootenay Valley opens before you and the pale turquoise serpentine Kootenay river travels beside you. On the right until Vermillion Crossing when it switches to the left side. I was thrilled I chose this option. The weather was great with no wind. Again, nothing was open so I had to forego a proper lunch. There still was nowhere to get water but I paced myself with what I had.

Vermillion Pass Information

Vermillion Pass Information

The Continental Divide

The Continental Divide

Kootenay National Park Beckons!

Kootenay National Park Beckons!

Welcome to BC!

Welcome to BC!

Of course, there is no free lunch, did I say there was no lunch at all! An ascent of Sinclair Pass is required admission to Radium Hot Springs. It is a tough climb and it plays on your mind. There are no roadside signs to tell you how far you have to go. It just climbs and climbs. My lack of a proper lunch caught up with me and I had to stop to eat a snack 200 m from the lookout. You figure there I am done, climb over! Not so fast. There is still a climb to the true pass at Olive Lake. This part breaks many men and women.

The view from Sinclair Pass Overlook #1

The view from Sinclair Pass Overlook #1

The view from Sinclair Pass Overlook #2

The view from Sinclair Pass Overlook #2

The view from Sinclair Pass Overlook #3 Art Filter

The view from Sinclair Pass Overlook #3 Art Filter

The view from Sinclair Pass Overlook #4 Art Filter

The view from Sinclair Pass Overlook #4 Art Filter

The view from Sinclair Pass Overlook #5 Art Filter

The view from Sinclair Pass Overlook #5 Art Filter

What follows next can best be described as a roller coaster ride down. 10 km of pure adrenaline rush if you do not apply the brakes. You get to Radium Hot Springs in a flash. I stopped in to ravage another cone but to my dismay the shop closed 30 minutes before my arrival! I had a back up plan, I always have a backup plan. At the junction in Radium is a gas station with ice cream. I had my ice cream! Funny, what little rewards you come up with as you climb.

Radium Hot Springs

Radium Hot Springs

I planted myself at the most beautiful campground for the night. The Canyon RV Park. I know a RV Park! It was so quiet and the grounds so lovely with trees in full fall colours including red! The campsite is also on grass!! Only those who have slept on gravel pads know what I am referring to. It is here that I am writing this blog post as a orange red sunset blossoms before me and four deer quietly eat grass in front of me. Not all is bliss. Apparently a black bear is in the vicinity. Here’s hoping he keeps his distance!

Guests at the Radium Canyon Campground!

Guests at the Radium Canyon Campground!

I am so glad I chose the Golden Triangle 3.0. These older legs still have some oomph and I am sure the lack of hair makes me more aerodynamic!

By the way, today was 109 km and about 7 hours in the saddle. About 3100 kcal were consumed. Now I know why I missed that lunch so much!

Until tomorrow, 103 km to Golden B.C..

Tag Cloud