Halloween. October 31, 2017

The weekend before Halloween we spend some time with Nathan and Sam and have dinner at Jon and Ryan’s. The kids are excited about trick or treating soon and we add to their excitement with a bag of candy and a little money gift in their card. Here is what they are wearing on Halloween.

Sam in green is an Entbrat from My Singing Monsters and Nathan is a P.E.K.K.A. from Clash of Clans

Of course I have no idea what these characters are although I have heard of Clash of Clans. The fabulous costumes were made by Ryan and Leigh.

At home on Halloween we will have no costumed children at our door since we are too far out of the area of maximum candy procurement in the minimum amount of time. Sarah, though, is dressing up and spending the evening with some friends at a high traffic house.

Sarah as Trixie from the TV show Call the Midwife

While all the Halloween festivities are happening we are having Karen and George over to dinner. We have been cooking for a couple of days while we try to perfect our dinner dishes. Wedge salad, beef Burgundy, mashed potatoes, and glazed carrots and onions are on the menu. Karen is helpfully bringing dessert.

Festive Halloween table setting

So many tomatoes!!! October 21, 2017

While we have been away in St. George Sarah and her tomato plants have been busy. There are so many tomatoes!!! Even though the tomatoes are getting a bit long in the tooth they are still busily making tomatoes. Sarah is making sauce and we are eating them like crazy before they start to spoil.

Plates full of tomatoes from Sarah’s garden

October in Utah and Jon’s visit – October 7-20, 2017

In October we embark upon a lengthy stay in St. George. We were in Utah in September, now this month, and we hope to go again in November. As the holidays approach it becomes more difficult to get away for more than a few days so December is definitely out. We are enjoying our time in Utah and as the weather improves it will be even better. Highlighting this stay is a visit from Jon for a long weekend. His work obligations have given him less time than usual to come and relax and play tennis and golf.

Before he arrives we have a little quiet time with just John and me. It is hard not to spend some time every day looking out the window.

Looking out over the pond at sunset

A great white heron on the rock outside the window

We meet Jon at the St. George Airport on October 12th. Before you know it he is ensconced in one of his favorite spots.

Jonathan reading a book on the couch

But he needs to cram a lot into 4 days so the next morning we are all out on the tennis court. We manage to squeeze in three sessions while he is here.

Jon on the tennis court

He tries to do all his favorite things –  go shopping, eat at our favorite restaurants, play golf and still have time for reading and arranging music. He manages to do them all!

Jon and John at Mongolian BBQ

But all too quickly his time here is over and after many hugs we drop him off at the airport.

Mom and Jon before going out to dinner

We spend another four days in St. George and after an overnight in Bakersfield we arrive back in Pleasanton on October 20.

October 1, 2017 – Neighborhood turkeys

We have a rafter of turkeys in our neighborhood. Rafter is the official term for a flock of turkeys. Every morning they come down from the ridge, cross Foothill Road, walk while grazing through our neighborhood, and end up at the arroyo. Around 3 PM they make the return trip. They started out with two adults and fourteen babies but now the babies are almost as big as the adults. They have lost only two members during the last couple of months. I think it was probably due to a predator when they were little. I have not seen any turkey carcasses in Foothill Road and the people in our neighborhood are pretty careful about not hitting them. Cars do not seem to frighten them at all as you practically have to nudge them out of the way. Dogs, however, can make them squawk and fly which is quite exciting.

Our rafter of turkeys, fourteen strong

The chicks are now as big as the adults

September 24, 2017 – Rosh Hashanah Seder

What do I mean a Rosh Hashanah Seder? Isn’t a Seder just for Passover? That’s what I thought too until I ran across an article about these Seders which are part of the Persian (and others) celebration.

It is mostly a celebration highlighting various foods which have pun-ish meanings in Hebrew and Aramaic. So the idea is to say a bunch of blessings over a variety of food while at the same time using the food names in puns. Sounds like it is right up our alley.

The traditional foods on the Seder plate are carrots, black-eyed peas, beets, dates, apples, squash, pomegranate seeds, leeks, and a ram’s head. Since Raley’s is not carrying ram’s head we substituted heads of garlic. It is easy to make puns about beets, dates, squash, and leek!

Seder plate full of pun-ish foods

A challah I made. We all tried blowing the shofar (ram’s horn) after dinner to much hilarity.

John lighting candles

Our dinner of Autumn Soup and black-eyed peas with squash and pomegranate seeds

SHANA TOVAH!!!

September 20, 2017 – Exploring Gold Butte National Monument

Jonathan has sent us an email asking if we have heard of Little Finland which is located somewhere near Mesquite, NV. No, we have not but we are going to find out about it. As it turns out Little Finland, a formation full of rock fins, is in Gold Butte National Monument, just southeast of Bunkerville, NV and about an hour away.

Gold Butte National Monument was set aside by President Obama in 2016. It is, of course, now under attack from the Trump administration who wants to negate all the good things that President Obama did. Interior Secretary Zinke has put it on the list of National Monuments that he thinks should be shrunk in size. It probably is not good for Gold Butte being right next door to the Bundy family farm.

Anyway John and I stop at the BLM office in St. George and try to get as much information as we can about the Monument. There is not much. Loading up the car with sweatshirts, water, and food plus telling Jonathan to call out the rescue squad if we don’t return by nightfall, we head out.

Beware all ye who enter here

There are a lot of things to see in Gold Butte but there are very few signs telling you where they are. Our first stop is at Whitney Pocket which is relatively well-marked.

Rock formation with a window at Whitney Pocket

Vista from Whitney Pocket

Rock climber John

Intrepid trail girl

Rock fins but not Little Finland

Now we are on our own with no information in Gold Butte as to where the things we want to see are. Our plan is to see fabulous petroglyphs, an unusual big hole called the Devil’s Throat, and Little Finland. How hard can this be? Very hard as it turns out.

I say I have seen pictures of the petroglyphs and they are on red rocks. Our map indicates that the petroglyphs are just south of Whitney Pocket. There are several masses of red rock. Is it this one? Is it that one? How do we get there? What roads there are are very rough. We choose a red blob and try to get there. Part way there we decide if we go any further we will get stuck and abandon the car to walk the rest of the way on foot. We look and look at this red rock outcropping but cannot find petroglyphs while all the time we are both concerned as to whether we will be able to get the car out of the wash we stopped in.

Do you think its that one?

Or this one?

We have learned the mantra of not getting stuck in the desert, “Do not try to turn around. Back up!” John removes some big rocks from our path and manages to get the car out of the wash. Phew! Abandoning the petroglyphs for the meantime we head toward the Devil’s Throat which is sort of on the way, we think, to Little Finland. Amazingly we find it.

This is a large hole in the ground that nobody knows why it is there. It has a ramshackle fence around it.

Devil’s Throat

Big hole

Yay to WUF, our old faithful SUV

Now we will try to find Little Finland. It turns out the road is not really a road. It is a wide wash. It is up to the driver to find a route through it. On the way to where we think Little Finland is we make several wrong choices and have to back out and start again. The scenery is amazing. But we are a little concerned that we won’t recognize where the turnoff to the main dirt road is. We probably should have left a marker.

Finally we get to where we think it should be. We get out of the car and start to hike along a sort of path. I fall down and decide I have had enough. John continues on to see what he can find. He finds nothing. As it turns out when we got out of the car we hiked to the right and we should have gone left. We give up on Little Finland and go back to try to find the petroglyphs again.

The wrong trail to Little Finland

After two more attempts at trying to find the petroglyphs we give up. We have decided that we need GPS coordinates if we are going to find this stuff. We console ourselves with a chocolate shake at McDonald’s and decide to try again another day armed with more information.

 

September doings in St. George

John and I take a vacation for a couple of weeks in St. George. We are greeted by our guard lizard.

Guard lizard

It seems like the guard lizard has done a good job because the house is in good shape and the flowers out front are blooming.

Front yard flowers

More flowers

While we are in St. George we want to make our new non-bathroom look more like a wet bar so we add some bar-type decorations and wine racks.

Non-bathroom decor

We have also discovered an awesome way to keep the stovetop clean. It is by not using it! Our induction burner has taken over any splatter-y task.

Using the induction burner on the countertop means…

A clean and shiny stove!!!

During our time in St. George we cook, clean, shop, and play tennis. The best thing of all is sitting looking out the window at the beautiful view. As the weather starts to turn more Fall-like the sky looks like a water painting.

View of the pond

On Rosh Hashanah John and I have a small celebration. We will have another with Sarah when we get back to Pleasanton.

Small Rosh Hashanah celebration

Before leaving for home we do have a big adventure but that deserves its own separate post.

September 4, 2017 – Labor Day family gathering

Today we get together for the annual eating of Labor Day hamburgers and discussing of why workers need a day to celebrate. It seems like the labor movement in the U.S. Is receiving more vilification than usual from the current administration so it is good to take a few moments to talk about all the good things that organized labor has done for workers with Nathan and Sam. Tney have recently seen in play, Newsies, and have some idea about unions, workers, and management.

I feel like it is not so much fun to go to Beeba and Zayde’s house anymore. Nathan and Sam are more interested in interacting with their friends and doing computer stuff. Ryan brings along some of their drawing and fantasy story writing stuff and works on it with them while they are here. Sarah continues to have some cache since she is like a big kid herself.

Some pictures from the day –

Sarah and Nathan discuss video games

Jonathan and Sam sticking out his tongue

Nathan likes to be with Ryan

Nathan is so long!

Sam drawing on Auntie Leigh’s lap

Sam knows I am taking a picture

August 21, 2017 – Eclipse

When I was planning this vacation I went day by day figuring out what we would be doing and where we would stay. I got to the next to last day and decided that somewhere mid-Oregon along I-5 would be best. Only when I could not find a single hotel that had vacancy did I wonder why Oregon was all booked up. John and I pondered about this. Was there some big event happening? Were all the colleges going back to school on the same day? Finally John had an aha moment, the eclipse!

So I had planned the perfect vacation with its climax at the moment of total eclipse somewhere near Salem, Oregon. We were offered eclipse glasses early on at the Museum of Eastern Idaho so we were prepared.

We leave our hotel in Chehalis, Washington early hoping to avoid the Portland, Oregon rush hour travel. Strangely there is no traffic at all around 8 AM. Maybe all the Intel people have the day off to watch the eclipse. About twenty miles north of Salem we start running into some traffic and decide to take some back roads and camp out on the side of a country road to watch the eclipse. Our plan is working perfectly. The eclipse starts and I am ready with my iPhone to snap some pictures but the sun is too bright. So I take to putting my eclipse glasses over the lens. Here are the results –

About 1/4 eclipsed (the little mark to the left is just a reflection)

1/2 eclipsed

Nearly fully eclipsed

Total eclipse

So obviously I am not very successful with the picture taking. I guess you would need a much more sophisticated camera than an iPhone. Shucks. Here is a picture from NASA showing what it actually looks like from Madras, Oregon.

NASA photo of the total eclipse as seen from Oregon.

We do take some pictures of John and I looking comical in our cool eclipse glasses called “The Eclipsers.”

Here I am staring at the sun

Here’s John staring at the sun

Here are some of my impressions about seeing a total solar eclipse. First, it happens really slowly. It tkes a long time for the moon to move into position. As it approaches, the sky begins to get a twilight kind of appearance. Then you notice the wind pick up a little and it starts to feel cooler. Finally when the sun it is totally eclipsed, it is dark but not totally pitch dark. There is still enough light coming from the edge bits to make things seeable. It only last for a minute or two before the moon and sun begin to part and the light comes back really quickly.

This is an awesome experience and the perfect end to our vacation. And because it is so worthwhile and special I am not going to complain about the monumental traffic where it takes us 4 hours to go 60 miles!

August 20, 2017 – Traffic and bad food

Headed part way home today. The traffic was pretty bad. I guess because of the eclipse tomorrow. It takes over an hour to cross the border and after that we average about 40 mikes an hour. It will probably be much worse tomorrow we will just be patient. We have a lot of podcasts to listen to.

Welcome home!

Picture of a faint Mt. Rainier

Finally reaching Chehalis, WA we check-in around 3PM and take a rest and look through our mail and catch up on news. We find a place, Jeremy’s Farm to Table Restaurant, with fairly good ratings so we decide to give it a try. It is terrible. It starts out with a basket of bread you have to buy for $6! I figure it will be pretty special but it arrives and appears to be several slices of commercially cut bread. They serve a slicing knife with it. I have no idea what for.

$6 bread

We both order the Arctic char which comes with seasonal vegetables and the Chef’s “surprise” starch. The vegetables are cold, not even room temperature. The surprise starch is a surprise indeed. It is mashed potatoes with brown gravy. The potatoes and some kind of packet mystery gravy are not reasonable accompaniments to fish. The skin on my fish is flabby and I swallow a bone. What a terrible dinner!

Arctic char with flabby skin and the odd bone, mashed potatoes with brown gravy, and cold vegetables

 

August 19, 2017 – Impressionism

First, a very happy birthday to my sister, Peggy, who is a year older today!

On our last sightseeing day of our vacation we visit the Vancouver Art Gallery and revisit Maenam, our favorite Thai restaurant. Pretty nice way to wrap things up! I am not a big fan of the Impressionists although I do confess to a schoolgirl’s crush on Seurat’s Pointellism when I saw his paintings at the National Gallery on my eighth grade trip. Now I prefer the somewhat cartoonish 14th and 15th century saints carrying their attributes. But here in Vancouver there is a Monet exhibition and I am interested in seeing it.

I find that I like his earlier works that they have here. Such as Snow Effect: Sunset, 1875 and Train in the Snow, 1875. Some of the later pieces are less appealing.

Snow Effect: Sunset, 1875

Train in the Snow, 1875

To me his later paintings exhibited here from around 1918 seem wild and unfinished but maybe it is because the colors are so garish next to the earlier gauzy paintings. Monet was always trying to catch the effect of fleeting light so maybe this is what it looked like to him in the height of summer when his eyesight was failing. Or maybe he was trying to push the envelope of art a little further.

Japanese Bridge, 1918

Some of the water lily paintings and earlier garden pictures are on display as well. We attend a short movie of an art critic discussing Monet’s works at different points in his life. It is very interesting.

Water lilies

A series of pictures of wisteria

Taking a Walk in Argenteuil, 1875

So I come away with a better appreciation of Monet’s development and obsession with light.

We return to the hotel to get organized for our start home tomorrow and to spruce up for our dinner at Maenam which is at 6 PM tonight.

Our dinner is great, better than Thursday’s. We get a free glass of champagne to have with our amuse bouche because John tells them we are celebrating our anniversary which is only a sort of half truth. The guys sitting next to us give us their unfinished bottle of wine for our “celebration” and what with the wine that comes with the meal we are well supplied!

Amuse Boucher tonight is tamarind/shrimp/peanuts on pineapple and salmon/roe/chilis on cucumber

We have the delicious mussels again tonight served with East Generation Dry Riesling

Also with the Dry Riesling is a much better rendition of the octopus salad

Delicious sable hot and sour soup, spicy!

The next two dishes are served with a Tantalus Juveniles Pinot Noir. First is a green beef curry

The other is a really yummy eggplant and pork belly stir fry

Chocolate ganache served with an Italian Moscato is for dessert

This is a wonderful ending to a really super summer road trip!

August 18, 2017 – Van Dusen Botanical Gardens, Vancouver, BC

We spend a lovely afternoon at the Van Dusen Botanical Gardens. We were last here in 2008. Although things do not change too much in the plant world, this place is always beautiful to see.

We are greeted by a pond, fountain, and water lilies

We head off to the rose garden. Even though it is late in the season, there are still quite a few roses. I even like the spent blooms, dropping their petals listlessly.

Best rose picture I took

My favorite – yellow roses

Did I mention that I love yellow roses?

Departing the rose garden, there are beautiful plant landscapes everywhere.

Some plants and flowers

I love how these bright yellow daisies are highlighted by both their own foliage and the large barberry behind them

There are all sorts of gardens here from all over the world. I am having trouble with my back and cannot see as much as I would have liked. Here are a few more special ones.

Artichoke thistle

Tansy

John walks over to the vegetable gardens while I sit a while on a bench and commune with nature.  The tomatoes here are way behind Sarah’s. She reports that we are overrun with tomatoes at home. I guess the almost thousand mile difference in location makes a big difference in the lives of these plants.

Still green tomatoes in BC

The restaurant, Shaughnessy, here at the gardens is open for lunch until 3 PM so we decide to have a late lunch and let it count for both lunch and dinner. We split an appetizer and an entree.

Calamari with olives, onions, fried capers and yogurt/mint sauce

Steelhead trout with a shrimp and rice cake, grilled tomatoes, asparagus and carrot/ginger sauce.

We have had a lovely day and it makes us happy!

Happy us!

August 17, 2017 – Zoo news

Today we took the spectacular ride from Whistler to Vancouver. What scenery!! Here are a couple of pictures I took out the window of the car.

Canada 99, the Sea to Sky Highway, closely parallels the Strait of Georgia

The Strait of Georgia empties into the Strait of Juan de Fuca and then into the Pacific Ocean

It is too early to check in so we decide to head down to the zoo in Langley about a half and hour or so southeast of Vancouver. George has been saying that Jonathan has the best wildlife siting (a moose) on our respective vacations and we are ready to prove him wrong! After a quick lunch at Mc Donald’s we are off to the zoo.

This is not the world’s best zoo. There are a lot of attractions that are empty. Others have aninmals that are hiding somewhere. Unfortunately we never see a moose which was our main goal. However, John gets to participate in the raptor show by catching a hawk on his wrist and that makes the pretty steep fee all worth it.

John’s big moment and other moose related pictures –

John catching the hawk

John petting the hawk

Moose-ter and hen

Collared moose-ary

Nadal and family (capybaras)

Night-flying hooting moose

The flightless moose-trich

African striped moose

A rare Australian moose

We win!

We have a late dinner at Maenam which we have been looking forward to for a year. Once again we get the Chef’s Tasting Menu.

Amuse bouche – tamarind shrimp on pineapple and coconut custard and shrimp (yum) served with Wild Goose Pinot Blanc

Hot and sour shrimp soup with oyster mushrooms (still drinking Pinot blanc)

Braised octopus salad served with Kitsch Pinot noir rose

Steamed mussels with chilis, lemon grass, Thai basil, and kafir lime leaves plus nam jim sauce (Yum) Pinot noir rose also goes with this dish

Penang braised beef curry served with Tantalus Juveniles Pinot noir

Stir fry hanger steak with baby corn, Szechuan green long pepper, green beans, and bell pepper (Tantalus Juveniles Pinot noir)

Coconut ice cream with frozen raspberries (Yum)

I have noted three things with a special “yum” as being particularly outstanding. However, this year the food is not quite as wonderful as last year’s. I think maybe it is because there is too much beef. Maybe people were complaining that it was too seafood centric. We are going again on Saturday and we will have the Chef’s Tasting Menu again as it changes day to day. They also have a vegetarian tasting menu that we might try.

August 16, 2917 – Gondola time

We have a lazy morning and head out to the gondolas around 11:30 in the morning. It is a pretty 20 minute walk to the gondolas.

Hanging flowers in a shopping area. The farmers’ market will be here later in the day

Covered bridge

Rushing creek

When we get to the gondola area it is packed full with mountain bikers of all ages and tents selling all sorts of bike paraphernalia. There are many signs which say, walk your bike!, but not many are paying attention. We run the gauntlet to the gondola.

There’s a bit of a wait for the gondola as some gondola cars are for bikers only. They and their bikes have to get up the mountain too!

Bikes in a gondola car

The views out the windows are incredible. I take a lot of pictures. It takes quite a while to get to the top of the mountain. Then we will take another gondola from Whistler Mountain to Blackcomb Mountain.

We pass by part of the mountain biking route as we go up

Getting toward the top!

We get out and walk around for a bit. It is quite barren up here.

John meet bear

A look at nearby peaks

Now we get into the intimidating peak to peak gondola.

View down to Whistler and the lake

John looking out the gondola car window

Gondolas going by

Our plan is to take a look around, take some pictures, and have some lunch at the restaurant here at the top of the mountain.

John on Blackcomb Mountain with Whistler far below

Mary of the mountains

The restaurant includes a cafeteria style restaurant and one with table service. We choose Christine’s at Blackcomb Mountain and we are glad we did. We decide to share one appetizer and one entree. Both are great!

We start with hamachi with pickled grapes, olives, almonds, and grill shishito peppers

This burger is definitely big enough for two. It’s a Vietnamese pork burger with pickled vegetables. The bowl of root vegetable chips is really yummy.

After lunch we spot some wildlife – a hairy marmot

Then it’s back across and then down the Whistler Mountain again. After are walk back to the hotel we need some rest time. We decide against dinner and just have some snacks and wine and call it a night.

Great day in a beautiful place

August 15, 2017 – Through the burn to Whistler

It is still smoky in Kamloops in the morning. We ask at the desk and they say that the roads are open to Whistler. As we hit the highway there is a disturbing sign saying that the entrance to 99 from 97 is closed. That is the way we are going. Then there are no more signs so we take our chances and continue on. As it turns out we are allowed to proceed but only with a pilot car through the recently burned area.

I do not take any pictures until we are clear of the smoke. Everything is really hazy. Finally we get beyond the smoke area and we head to have some lunch in one of few towns that are on our route, Lillooet. Since we had such an abysmal experience trying local food yesterday we decide to go with generic fast food at A & W. One thing I can say about Canadians they are nice, polite, and helpful. (Maybe three things!) We tell the woman behind the counter what we want and she figures out how we can get it. Having an old time-y root beer is the frosting on the cake.

John enjoying an A & W root beer

The scenery on our rather long drive today is spectacular. There’s mountains, more turquoise lakes and rivers, and fast running creeks. We stop every once in a while to take pictures.

Beautiful Lake Seton

Waterfall

Mountain peaks

Rushing Cayoosh Creek

Finally after almost six hours we are getting closer to Whistler. The mountains are taller now and some are still snow covered.

Mountains with snow

After stopping for some iced coffee with about 30 minutes to go we reach Whistler. It is really busy! It seems that some big downhill mountain bike racing event is going on. We check into the Four Seasons Resort and are pleased with our room. It has room for sitting, blogging, and sleeping!

Sitting area of room

After a while of relaxing we opt not to eat at the fancy fine dining restaurant and opt for the bar where they have a smaller (and cheaper) menu. We order a charcouterie and cheese board and it is really good. Most of the sausages are made with duck or elk. One is flavored with juniper berries. It’s enough for dinner.

Cheese and charcouterie board

Tomorrow we will take the gondola up the mountain and then the peak to peak gondola to go near the top of Blackcomb Mountan. I am hoping I will not be freaked out by the heights.

August 14, 2017 – Turquoise Lake Louise

We get up early this morning because we have heard that if you are not at Lake Louise before 9 AM, you probably will not get a parking space. The Lake is about 45 minutes away so we leave shortly after 7AM.

Downtown Banff early in the morning

Departing Banff there are a lot of low clouds

The drive is lovely

I have a plan. I figure we should go directly to Lake Louise and see it first.  Everyone has heard of Lake Louise but how many people have heard of Moraine Lake. Turns out that Lake Moraine is on the back of one of the Canadian coins, I think. Plus it is Canada’s150th birthday and all their national parks are free and crowded. But first, Lake Louise which is named after the 4th child of Queen Victoria. The fabulous turquoise color comes from “rock flour carried into the lake by melt-water from the glaciers that overlook the lake.” Wikipedia

Lake Louise

John by Lake Louise

Mary by Lake Louise

Flowers by Lake Louise!

So far my plan has worked for avoiding crowds. Now we are heading to Moraine Lake. Ever since George showed us pictures of Moraine Lake I have looked forward to seeing it. What I had not planned on was the horde of people who were already there. The parking lot and street parking is full all the way to the point where you are no longer allowed to park on the street. We wander around the parking lot but there are no spaces. The sad picture is a tiny sliver of Lake Moraine taken from the parking lot. Many people in cars, RVs, and buses come and park and then go for extended hikes which makes it impossible for people, who can no longer hike great distances, without a place to park.

As close as I was going to get to Lake Moraine

We drive to a pullout as we travel back along the road to and from Lake Moraine for some memories of the misty mountains.

Misty mountains

More misty mountains

We still have five hours left to drive not counting the innumerable delays for road construction and lunch. Speaking of lunch, I had the worst lunch ever in Revelstoke. It consisted of a burnt-to-a-crisp hamburger and overcooked but soggy fries. It must be a sign that I need to stop eating these things. I thought it would be a safe order. I took no pictures.

As we finally approach Kamloops, BC the smoke is really thick. It is hard to see much of anything.

Kamloops is full of smoke from the nearby fires

We are staying at the Fairfield Inn and Suites which we have found to be the most consistent of the chain hotels. After some relaxing we go to dinner at Romeo’s Kitchen and Spirits. This is supposed to be run by the celebrity chef of Kamloops. He has appeared on Iron Chef and Chopped Canada. Once again John orders better than I do. I should just order whatever he is having.

My Penang Tofu Curry ( I substituted tofu for chicken)

John’s Laksa

Tomorrow we are going to Whistler, BC and hopefully out of all the smoke which makes me cough.

August 13, 2017 – Into the Canadian Rockies

After spending an inordinate amount of time finding gas and somewhere for breakfast, we were finally on the road around 10:30 AM. This was supposed to be an early departure day since we wanted to go past Banff and see Lake Louise and Moraine Lake today. However, we’ve decided to push them off until tomorrow so that we can view them with fewer people early in the morning.

We have been on the prairie since Idaho and I am excited that today will feature terrain. It is a hazy morning so we do not see the Canadian Rocky Mountains until we get quite close and, wow, are they impressive – craggy limestone piercing the sky. I take some pictures from the car as we approach.

Canadian Rockies!

Getting closer to Banff

We are staying at the Moose Hotel. We check in early and they upgrade us to a suite, sweet! They have a moose statue out front.

John and moose 3

We walk to the local IGA and get some snacks that will take the place of lunch and some bagels and cream cheese for breakfast tomorrow and settle in to watch the Federer/Zverev match. Somewhere during the match Federer must have hurt his back or something because in the second set he is hardly trying. He loses. Boo.

It’s raining so we decide to stay in and relax. We are getting up early tomorrow so we need our energy. Later we go downstairs and eat at the hotel restaurant, Pacini, and have an okay meal. John has lasagna and I have penne primavera. They have this weird grill arrangement where you toast your own bread. Afterwards we come back to the room and I am now fighting with the internet to try to get my pictures uploaded but at this point it doesn’t look good.

Early Monday AM. – most people must still be asleep because I am able to upload the pictures.

John’s lasagna

My pasta primavera – more vegetables, less pasta, please!

 

 

August 12, 2017 – Drumheller, Alberta

We have based ourselves just northwest of Calgary which gives us flexibility in our sightseeing. Today we range about 130 kilometers to the northeast to learn about dinosaurs, mining, and the old Canadian West.

Yesterday I bought an app which gives us a tour of the area. We drive, we enjoy. We do not have to do anything. Our tour guide is synced with our GPS and just comes on with info when we need it. Seems to me my Trip-Tickle was supposed to work like this.

Here is what we are guided to –

Horseshoe Canyon. This is the type of banded rock we are going to see.

A typical rock full of inclusions

When we get to Drumheller we are directed to the Visitor’s Centre where we also see the world’s biggest dinosaur.

The world’s largest dinosaur evilly
stepping on someone’s pick-up truck

 

John and triceratops

From there we head out on the hoodoo trail. The places we go to either have s connection to mining or geology. Our first stop is at a suspension footbridge over the Red Deer River. This was used by miners who lived across the river from the mines.

Looking across the suspension bridge

View of the bridge from the side

Just like a Bryce Canyon NP there are hoodoos except that the colors tend to be the muted browns and cream of the surrounding countryside. We take a walk among the hoodoos.

Hoodoos!

Lone hoodoo

Hoodoo sentinels

Top of a hoodoo

OMG, an actual picture of me! (Unfortunately there is a big red blob over my face courtesy of the camera or the sun or something)

Then we drive along to the Atlas Coal Mine which is now a state historic site. It has a wooden tipple (coal sorter) and for $10 each we could go have a closer look but we decided we’ve seen enough coal mines during previous trips (which is why we know what a tipple is).

Banded hills as we ride along towards the Atlas Mine

 

Atlas Coal Mine

On the way back toward Drumheller we stop at the almost Ghost Town, Wayne. The only things in the town supposedly inhabited are the Rosedeer Hotel land the Last Chance Saloon. We walk through the saloon and the lobby of the hotel but find no ghosts so we continue on our way in search of lunch back in town.

Last Chance Saloon and Rosedeer Hotel in Wayne, Alberta

We understand that Tim Horton’s is the iconic lunch place in Canada. We’ve seen them everywhere. Much like poutine we have managed to avoid it so far but, seriously, it cannot be as bad as poutine (sounds). We thought it would be sort of like Denny’s but it is not. It is more like McDonald’s without hamburgers and fries. You order at a counter and pick up your food. I have a BLT on a untoasted French roll. John had a cold cut sandwich. The sandwiches are accompanied by soggy potato wedges. We won’t be going back.

 

Iconic Tim Horton’s

After lunch it is our plan to go to the Royal Tyrell Museum of Palaeontology. It seems half of Canada has the same plan so we decide to do the second half of our audio tour and come back later. This is the Dinosaur Loop but there was nothing about dinosaurs in the tour. First we went to Horsethief Canyon where, guess what, horse thieves used to hide their stolen horses, rebrand them, and then try to sell them. It is an overlook. We take some pictures.\

A view of Horsethief Canyon – I am standing on the edge here and the canyon is quite deep

View from the other side

Then we take a ferry (which the narrator keeps calling a fairy, annoyingly) that holds thirteen cars across the Red Deer River. The ferry is pulled across by a cable. It is named the Bleriot Ferry. The guy who it is named after is the brother of the more famous Bleriot who was the first person to fly solo across the English Channel. John remarked that he was wondering if they were related. I was more, “Bleriot, who?”

Our car getting on the ferry

Our car on the ferry. It was a very slow ride.

Our last stop is at the Orkney Viewpoint which is quite scenic and overlooks the canyon with the prairie stretching out beyond it.

Scenic look at the Red Deer River

Looking across the coulee to the prairie (the thin edge of yellow at the top of the picture)

We take another shot at the Tyrell Museum but there are no parking spaces. We give up and head back to the hotel where we watch some tennis and eat some dinner. Tomorrow we head to Banff. I am looking forward to terrain!

Our appetizer is drunken shrimp which is delicious. It is the best thing we have had here at the hotel restaurant

John has his old standby, Buffalo chicken wings and a salad

I have Chicken Tikka Masala with rice and naan (the naan is actually pita)

 

August 11, 2017 – Stampeding in Calgary

No post yesterday because we did nothing post worthy. We drove to Calgary and then watched tennis for the rest of the day. We needed a little vacation from our vacation. But here we are in Calgary and it is time to get going!

Calgary manhole featuring the Calgary skyline

Two nights ago we were talking with our server in Lethbridge and she was originally from Calgary.  She loves Calgary so much that she has an outline of the skyline of Calgary tattooed on the inside of her arm. That’s is true love.

Jordan’s Forearm or Calgary

Today we go to Calgary’s Heritage Park HIstorical Village where we can experience yesterday today.

John and sign

One of the first things we see is another moose! Jonathan has a picture of an actual moose that he met on a trail. But now we have two faux moose and John pictures.

John and moose

There are a lot of turn of the 20th century buildings here. Also a train and a paddle steamer. We plan on looking at some of the buildings, taking a train ride, and a boat ride, and watching a woodworking demonstration. First up the boat ride.

Replica of a paddle steamer from a lake in Canada

Sailboats out on the lake

A little while later after viewing the many train engines and cars that they have in their museum we board the train for two circuits around the park.

Train with man who just wouldn’t get out of the way

After walking around for more than three hours in the heat we decide to call it a day. We cannot wait to get back and take showers. For dinner we decide to just go down to the restaurant here and watch the tennis matches while we have dinner.

Appetizer of a stuffed pretzel that we shared

John’s Asian street tacos

I have a salad with tuna

August 9, 2017 – Seein’ the sights in Lethbridge, Alberta

We have a lazy morning not getting up until 7:00AM. After a leisurely breakfast we watch the Federer. V. Polanski match at Montreal. Very contrasting styles. Federer won easily, Yay!

Then we left for Fort Whoop-up which started life as a trading post. (Actually this is just a reproduction of the real fort/trading post which was a ways away and got washed away in a flood.) After an informational movie we walk around the site seeing the various artifacts and reading the placards. The main trading went this way – you give me a bison pelt and I will give you some flour and sugar, you give me two bison pelts and I will give you a gun. And of course they also traded whiskey which was lethal to the Native Americans. Finally the Canadian government sent out the Northwest Mounted Police to stop the illegal trade and lawlessness. But a lot of damage had been done to the First Nation (the term they prefer to use in Canada.)

John whooping it up

John feeding a miniature donkey

John, a member of the original 12 tribes of Israel, beside a tribal abode

Interior of the trading room

Whoop-up kitchen

A Boston Baked Beans recipe from 1847

Whiskey smuggler!

Next we stop in at the Helen Schuyler Nature Centre (Canadian spelling) and look around briefly. This is mostly a place for children to come and learn about nature. They have a cool display that plays different bird songs.

Helen Schuler Nature Centre

It’s 2 PM so we had better grab a quick lunch. We stop at a nearby Wendy’s and have a pretty meh lunch. Then we proceed to the Galt Museum. The Galts were the bigwigs in these parts and made a fortune from discovering high grade coal and “persuading” the Canadian Railway to establish a nearby line so they could ship their coal out. It’s why the High Level Bridge was built. Interestingly the High Level Bridge is the highest and longest bridge of its type in the world.

The Galt Museum and Archives

Contemporary railroad art installation at the Galt Museum (High Level Bridge in background)

Time to hurry back to thre hotel and watch some more tennis. Nadal is playing and as usual we are hoping he loses. (He doesn’t)

For dinner we go to Moxie’s which bills itself as a classic restaurant and lounge. By classic I think they mean 1950’s but at least they have updated the menu if not the decor. We have a few small plates to share and a salad. It turns out it is half price wine Wednesday. So we buy a bottle.

Our server is a very chipper young person from Calgary who is studying math to become a teacher in Lethbridge. She gives us some pointers about Calgary and we talk some politics. The Canadians are not liking Trump at all.

She also insists that we must try poutine, the national dish of Canada. We have assiduously avoided ever eating this because it sounds horrific. It is French fries and cheese curds covered in brown gravy. Why bother making crispy French fries if you are just going to drown them in gravy. Perhaps it accounts for all the soggy fries we have come across and not eaten in Canada.

Cauliflower with spicy Korean sauce – so bad we sent it back, mush

Calamari and shrimp, much better than the cauliflower and the dipping spices were good

Sushi rolls. Not exactly sushi since the shrimp was tempura style but the best thing of the evening

Tomorrow we will be stampeding to Calgary.