Sunday, July 17, 2016

Mountains, Bears, and Poutine...Oh My

Our reality a few weeks ago was driving from Jasper to Canmore, Alberta on the Icefields Parkway in Canada.  It was spectacular!  Even though it was rainy and overcast, those mountain views were stunning.  I'm sure it's even more gorgeous on a clear day.  But even cloudy, how about this nature?

My favorite thing about this part of the world is the glacial lakes.  They're the most unbelievable shade of blue.  It almost looks like Caribbean waters. I couldn't get over how bright and vibrant the blues were.

We stayed at another Best Western in Canmore, and our room had an excellent view of the mountains.

View out the window & lazing in the room...

We had grand plans to hike in Canmore at a trail I found that lead to a waterfall and two of those super blue glacial lakes.  Alas, our plans were thwarted.  By bears.  Of course.

We'd just arrived at the trail head when a Canada Parks dude pulled up in a truck as we were getting our backpacks on.  That's never a good sign.  In my experience, when the parks folks come by to chat, it's usually with bad news.

He's all, "So are you guys just going out for a walk?  Because a report just came in that a black bear and a grizzly just crossed over the river into this area.  The berries are coming in now, so they'll be foraging all around here.  You might not want to go hiking right now."

Damn it - I wanted to see a waterfall!  And hike in the Canadian Rockies.  And see jaw droppingly blue glacial lakes.  Stupid bears, all living here and shit.

But, when the Canada Parks guy tells you it's not the best idea to hike, it's probably a good idea to take his advice.

So we did.  And we ended up walking around town and getting lunch at Grizzly Paw Brew Pub instead.  So, it wasn't all bad.

As I've mentioned before, we were on the hunt for the ultimate poutine while we were in Canada.  Just a reminder - poutine is french fries smothered in brown gravy and cheese curds.  Some say it's the National dish of Canada.

We'd sampled quite a few poutines during our travels, and I think we found a winner at Grizzly Paw.  Plus - they have a tasty Raspberry Wheat.  Yet another beer I wish I could have in the U.S.

How 'bout that poutine love?

We indulged in some post lunch ice cream at a unique food truck called Old School Bus Ice Cream.  It's just what it sounds like.  - Ice cream from a re-purposed school bus.  Kind of fun!

Ice cream on a bench & downtown Canmore

Next up?  Back to the U.S.A.!  Our poutine days were coming to a close.  Probably a good thing!

Ta-ta for now.

Sunday, July 10, 2016

Ahboot Canada, Aye

Muncho Lake

We spent about 9 days in Canada on our road trip from Kodiak, AK to Sacramento, CA - so I'm obviously completely qualified to dispense my version of a little Canada 101.  Four things:

1 - Canadian pronunciation of the word about = ahboot.  It's kind of annoying.
2 - Canadians love to use the long o sound.  So, words like progress becomes PRO-gress, & sorry becomes SO-ree.
3 - They call their dollar coins "Loonies" because there's a picture of a loon on them
3 - It's perfectly acceptable to add the word "aye" to the end of any and every sentence.

Examples:  "Have a good evening now, aye." or, "Beautiful day today, aye."  It's a question, it's an exclamation, it's a versatile non-word that if you're Canadian must be added to the end of all sentences.  It's the law.

Anyway, enough of my commentary - back to our international travels.  Not too much to say about Whitehorse, Yukon - it was a short overnight spent mostly in the hotel. Much overdue laundry-doing and beer experimentation was the theme. 

We ordered take out and a few beers from the hotel bar, and I had a cranberry wheat, called Deadman Creek from Yukon Brewing.  Their slogan is perfect:  "Beer Worth Freezing For."  Heh.

Accurate slogan, though! That cranberry wheat was so good, I wish I could find it somewhere in the U.S. - but it's strictly a Canadian beer.  Fine Canada.  Be that way.

On the road, somewhere between here & there

After Whitehorse was Dawson Creek, British Columbia.  What a hole that place was.  Not even worth writing about. We stayed at a place I would describe extremely loosely as "campgrounds."  It was like a Cops episode waiting to happen.

I really wish I took a picture of our Canadian Joe Dirt neighbor.  Highly entertaining.  Dawson Creek is known for being mile zero - the start of the Alaska Highway, and they've got a sign to prove it.  Not worth the stop, trust me.  The town, or the sign!

Once we left hole-in-the-wall Dawson Creek, we headed to Jasper, Alberta and arrived safely without any hitches.  What an improvement!  Gorgeous scenery along the way and the entire time we were there.

We split our time in Jasper between a Best Western and Whistlers Campgrounds.  Both were fantastic. Especially in light of the less than classy accommodations we came from.

After checking in to our room, we walked around to check out the town with the boy.  It was surrounded by mountains, & had a quaint, alpine village vibe.

Of course, we had to hit the Jasper Brewing Company for lunch when we saw it on the main drag. And I had to try their Blackeye Blueberry Vanilla Ale.  It was crisp and fresh, not at all as sweet as you would expect it to be.

Poutine was a must, because we decided we needed to find the ultimate poutine while we were in Canada.  Poutine is french fries covered in brown gravy and cheese curds.  It's so bad, but oh, so very good.  It's totally a Canadian thing.  Jasper Brewing Company's was good, but the hunt for the best was still on.  And we still had some more time!

Tasty beers & poutine!

Oh, and by the way - if you've indulged in poutine, it's inevitable that you'll get hit with the irresistible urge to nap anytime within 1-3 hours after eating it.  It's inescapable. Case in point.

Post-poutine naps in the Cricket.  Although - Cheety didn't indulge.  He's just game for whatever.  Nap? Hike? Sure.

I loved our campsite in Jasper.  And not just because there were no horseflies!  It was beautiful and quiet - well, besides the chirping prairie dogs.  Which Cheety wanted to say hello to. Possibly with his teeth.


And I may or may not have had campfire s'mores for dinner. For those of you paying attention - yes, I did indeed have poutine for lunch followed by s'mores and wine for dinner. Those good food choices just kept on comin'. Ha.

So we continued on down the road, inching closer to our final destination.  Sacramento or bust, aye?

Ta-ta for now.

Sunday, July 3, 2016

Horse Flies, No Extra Charge

We're talking horse flies the size of quarters - no exaggeration.  That little gem of reality a few weeks ago at our campsite at Watson Lake in the Yukon was by far the worst part. We got chewed up!

More like "Gateway to Horse Flies"

By the way, this is what happens if a horse fly bites you near your eye.  It's super sexy.

Of course, my joke is that I got a little mouthy and the hubby gave me a fresh one.  Calm down sensitive Nellies, it's just a joke.

I don't know if you can really tell from my picture, but my whole eye was blown up and swollen.  Like I had a full on brawl with someone.

Super itchy, full of fluid and weeping for a few days. I had this eye whopper, and 3 other bites on my arms and body.  The hubby was chewed up, too with half a dozen bites of his own.  It was awesome.  Freaking horse flies. 

But aside from the damn flies, the site itself was picturesque with a peaceful view of the pines.  We upped our camping game and got an indoor/outdoor rug to catch all the filth before dragging it into the Cricket.  Festive and practical.

Along with our uninvited flying guests, we had another unexpected scenario at old Watson Lake.  One of the trailer tires had a piece of shale lodged into it, which caused a flat.

Not too surprising considering the conditions of some of the roads.  We had a tire plug repair kit, so the hubby macho-ed it up and took care of business.

Oh, and another notable:  a 6 pack of Coors Light cans was about fifteen bucks out in the Yukon sticks!  Granted, it's Canadian dollars so really only about 11-12 U.S. dollars, but that's still ridiculously inflated.  Whatever, those frosty cold Coors Light were worth it!

Our theme for today's camp:  Coors Light & bug spray - with the mascots, of course

It was funny, at one point on the road we stopped to get gas at a combo cafe/gas/campground type spot, and got to talking with an old codger who was at the campsite.

He asks, "So, are you guys heading outside?"  Once he saw the looks of confusion on our faces, he clarified, "You know what outside means, right? It means you're traveling outside of Alaska and the Yukon."

Consider us schooled.  So, I guess that's exactly what we were doing.  Heading outside.

Onward we went on our journey to the outside - minus the horse flies!

Ta-ta for now.