Day 21 Homeward Bound

So today we are leaving. We can’t believe how quickly this holiday has gone. We are all packed and the plan is to go to the airport at 14.30 and Marty and Mavis will drop us off.

We had bacon, eggs and tomatoes for breakfast, with tea and coffee. It was lovely. This was one of my Dad’s favourite meals and it’s also a big family favourite, especially useful as a hangover cure (allegedly).

Last night was the last supper in Calgary and WOW.. did they feed us well. We were all full of Thai red curried fish, butter chicken, samosa and rice… OMG!!

After tea and a couple of bottles of wine later, we took some obligatory selfies…

Kate is really good at this selfie business. Gets them right every time.

We were up really late again and this may cause us to hurt in the morning but hey, we don’t get here often. Besides, we would sleep well after all the food and booze. zzzzzzzz

Just before we left, Lara joined us. We thought we may miss her on this trip so it was great that we finally managed to meet her face to face a we’ve only Skyped before, she stayed until we left for the airport.

Me, Mr Holt and Lara

So, very quickly the time came to leave and it was hugs and kisses all round. A lot of hard swallowing to fight back the tears and a great big hug from Carter man, our little super hero before we got into the van and pulled off.. I hate goodbyes 😦

Isn’t he gorgeous!!

I’m writing this sitting at the YYC airport at Calgary, waiting to board. Its going to be a full 24 hours before we’re home but we have so many fun things to think about. So glad we made it for the second time. The journey is so worth it and we have the Grannyrant to remind us when we need it.

Boarding now, so TTFN. Granny.. WALES HERE WE COME

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Day 20 – Saskatoon to Calgary

Today, we leave Saskatoon for Calgary.  This is the final part of our three week holiday and today we will be mostly in the car, so there won’t be much to report.

We repacked our cases, loaded up Marty’s van and set off for Calgary at about 10.30.

Quick stop at Tim Horton’s to pick up takeaway coffee and we were leaving the city at around 10.45.

The distance to Robyn’s house is just over 600km and will take almost 7 hours with a couple of bathroom stops.

The scenery along the way is beautiful but it is really flat.  Marty says “If your dog run’s away, you can still see him running in three days!”

Rapeseed

Prairie

We drove on an on until we came to Drumhellar, where over the years the rock formations have taken on a strange appearance.  They have found lots of Dinosaur bones here and there is a Museum of Paleanthology in the town.

Drumhellar

We finally arrived at Calagary at around 5.45 pm, we were all tired, especially Marty and Mavis, who shared all the driving.  It takes so long to get anywhere here, as this country is so vast.

We had pulled Chicken, Stir Fry and Shrimp for supper and we sampled some of our Naramata fruit wine.  Not bad but I think we prefer the kind made from grapes!  We also had some Ungava Gin, which we all like so we’re bringing some home as I’ve never seen it in the UK.

We finally got to bed at 00.30 …exhausted but having enjoyed another great night with the family.

As I write this, we have just returned from our last shopping trip.  Robyn has planned a curry for tonight and we have some Wine chilling for our last Supper of this adventure.  So glad we are spending the last night with our lovely family.  They have all been amazing and their hospitality has been incredible.  We love them all so much.

We are also so glad that me and Mr Holt managed to meet little Carter while he was still so young as he is a real character and an amazing little man.  He really has a great personality. Hopefully he will come to the UK in the not too distant future.

OK – the kettle is on and supper is being prepared so TTFN … Granny

Me and Him

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Day 18 and 19 – Robertson’s Farm, The Berry-Barn, Bugsy’s Bar and the Last Day in Saskatoon

A lazy morning (I could get used to these).  Gail popped around and brought some gorgeous homemade muffins and we sat on the deck with our tea and coffee. It’s really windy at the moment, unusually so and it’s still early so it’s really cool in the wind.  We moved the chairs nearer to the house for shelter.  It’s much warmer in the sun.  We spent a good hour with Gail before she headed home to finish her housework. 

Later, we ate the remaining hot dogs and burgers for lunch.  What is it about homemade food?  It always tastes just as good, if not better, the second day.  At least I think so…

After lunch, we all jumped in the Van and headed out for a ride to Robertson’s Farm   .We bought some garden potatoes, some Saskatoon Berry Jam, and 3 bags of pod peas.  We will eat these over the next few days, straight from the pods!

 

After the farm, we drove onto The Berry Barn which we visited when we here in 2010.  I like this place.  They do the most amazing desserts and ice cream and there is a really picturesque walk along the Saskatchewan River which is right behind the Cafe.

Before we went for coffee, we went for a look around the small store, which sells all sorts of garden signs, ornaments and water fountains etc.  We bought a wind chime for our garden and a few other things to bring home before going into the Cafe for coffee and ice cream.  The vanilla is particularly scrumptious.

After the coffee and ice cream were finished, we went out for a walk along the river. The river is very low at this point and the sandbanks are unusually exposed.  It makes the river bank look like a beach as the sand is white and the water is really blue.  It’s hot again today too, so it has the feeling of the French Riviera about it.  It is gorgeous and there were flocks of water birds on the opposite side…but guess who forgot the camera!?

Saskatchewan River

Saskatchewan River Walk at The Berry Barn

As we walked along, we came across a seat, similar to one we had stopped at for a picture in 2010.  We took a picture with me in, then one with the Mr in. just then a lovely Canadian lady came along and asked if we would like a picture of the four of us, as she said “there is always one left out taking the picture!”  She is right of course, so it was great to all be in the picture at the same time for a change.

Me, Marty Mavis and Mr Holt at The Berry Barn

Berry Barn River Walk

When we got back, we sat outside for a while but the wind was really strong, so it was quite cold.   Luckily, there are two patios at the house and one at the side of the house is quite sheltered, you also get the sun quite late, so we find ourselves following the sun around the garden.

We are having Pork ribs for tea – yummy!  A special request from me, some barbecue and some cooked with Oregano and Oyster Sauce.  This was my favourite meal from 2010, so I have asked Mavis can we have them again?  We also, bought a huge piece of Salmon and cooked it with Dill, Lemon juice and butter.  We had green beans, garden potatoes from the farm and lots of salad.  This certainly hit the spot!  Well cooked Aunty!  Absolutely delicious!

Tonight, we are heading for Bugsy’s Bar at Market Mall we met Brad and Sue the other night when they were kind enough to invite us to their house, so tonight we are going to have few beers at their bar in town.

Everyone here makes you feel so welcome and we have been overwhelmed by the hospitality and generosity of the people we have met.

 

when we arrived we pulled a couple of high tables together and all four of us and Brad and Sue got together.  We were eventually joined by Doug and Laurie, who are golfing and darts friends of Marty and Mavis.

While the ladies sat around telling stories and laughing about anything and everything, the men decided to have a game of darts.  This got quite competitive as there were small amounts of money involved.  The Mr and Doug, played Brad a Marty and even though Mr Holt, hasn’t played darts for donkey’s years, him an Doug came out on top.  To say that the Mr had an enjoyable night is an understatement, he really enjoyed the darts and the banter.  I too, really enjoyed the company and we are so glad we managed to fit in a trip to Bugsy’s ..what a great place and what was actually  supposed to be a quiet night at the pub, turned out to be great fun, with lots of laughter and banter and to top it off, Brad presented Mr Holt with a Bugsy’s Baseball Cap and Tee Shirt.

He is over the moon!  What a great night … thanks to everyone who turned up to make it a fun  🙂

After a great night’s sleep (although I seem to have developed a cough), we got up quite late.  Mavis had to work today, so she left early but we slept until around 08.45.

When we finally got up, we had tea and toast and then decided we needed to repack our cases, to make sure we had everything.  This is our last day here and tomorrow, we head back to Calgary for our last couple of days before flying home on Friday.  This holiday has flown by.  As they say “time flies when you’re having fun.”

So we sorted all our stuff, packed all our breakables and bottles of wine in the middle of the cases wrapped in our jeans and put plenty of packing around them and got rid of all the rubbish we don’t need to take home.  The amount of ‘stuff’ you accumulate in 3 weeks is phenomenal!  We tentatively weighed the cases … Phew, we are still both under our 22kg allowance so we’ll be fine!

Marty took us on a trip to the Mall for some last minute shopping and we had Thai food at the food hall.  Mr Holt bought a Saskatchewan Rough Riders shirt and I bought a  lovely coat which was on sale and almost half price!  I love a bargain.

So tonight, we finished off the ribs and Salmon, had a few G&Ts, watched a film and then came to bed by 10.30… no sleep yet though as it’s well after midnight and I am still typing this blog!

Calgary, here we come again tomorrow, a six and a half hour drive for Marty and Mavis… this time we are just passengers.

So it’s goodnight from me and it’s goodnight from him … TTFN Granny 🙂

 

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Day 17 – The Hangover and the Barbecue

Yesterday, we were feeling a little fragile after the Whisky-fest at Brad and Sue’s so we got up quite late and mooched around drinking lots of tea and coffee on the deck.

We have eggs and toast for breakfast and even though the wind is up, we managed to stay outside.  I managed to get a few bird shots in the garden, I am reliably informed that the yellow one is a warbler (according to google) the red breasted one, is a Robin (although he is nothing like a UK Robin) and this other lovely creature is a Mourning Dove.

Today, there will be a family BBQ and we are expecting quite a few members of the family, so my free selfie stick may come out again.

Marty and Mavis are going to barbecue some of Gail’s homemade burgers, hot dogs and potato salad, homemade relish from Shalyn and Gail’s cake with raspberries.  This is sounding great already.

At 2pm, the first guests arrived and when everyone got here there were 13 adults and 6 children, it was busy and happy and there were greetings and hugs all round.

We all sat on the deck at first, even though it was a bit windy, eating snacks and fresh peas straight from the pods.  We had a few glasses of wine that we had brought from our Naramata wine tour until, all of a sudden, it started to rain… big spots of rain, so we quickly gathered up all the cans, glasses, phones, speakers etc and darted indoors.

Out came the selfie stick!

Martin, Carmen, me and Shalyn

Mavis’s Mother Helen (95 years young)

Tom, me and Marty

We had such a feast and the food and company was amazing.  I also managed to get the recipe for Shalyn’s relish.  I will definitely be making a batch of that… it is gorgeous!

When we were all fed and the meal was done, there was lots of chatting and laughter with everyone, and also a good chat to those we had never met before.  We love family get togethers.  A great time was had by all.  By 7pm everyone had left being full of food and wine …

After everyone was gone and the dishes were cleared away, we crashed on the sofas to watch TV.  By 10.30 we couldn’t keep our eyes open, so off to bed we went …

What a lovely day, TTFN – Granny

 

 

 

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Day 15 & 16 – #Saskatooning – When in Canada, do as the Canadians do…

Good morning, Granny calling … catching up on two days as we have been too busy enjoying ourselves to even think about spending an hour typing up the Grannyrant!

It’s Sunday today and we arrived at Saskatoon on Thursday.  We have done so much in the last two days and we are still having a ball!

On Friday, Mavis took us to the Taste of Saskatchewan event alongside the Saskatchewan River. We went to this event in 2010 and we really enjoyed it then.  All the restaurants in the town, set up temporary kitchens and sell their food, everything from Thai, Burger Joints, Cafes and Juice bars.  All local produce and locally cooked food.  There is live music and free Ice Cream…hundreds of people turn out to celebrate their local culture and produce.  The town in buzzing with activity and there is a real party feel everywhere you go.  Before we went, Henry came to pick up Marty for Golf, so we gave him his Andy Capp hat!  He was really please with but it’s too big!  Joan has to alter it I think but he liked it anyway.

We went into town and found a parking space quite easily and before sampling the food, we walked along the river on the toe-path, it was hot but there was a cool breeze as we walked along.  There is a lot of construction going on in Saskatoon at the moment and parts of the path were blocked off, this city seems to be undergoing a huge expansion since the last time we were here but this isn’t putting people off coming to the Taste of Saskatchewan event.

After our walk, we headed back into the event field, bought some tokens and strolled around the different stalls to see what we wanted to try.  The Mr chose a veggie Mexican Taco dish and Mavis and I went for some Thai Noodles with Spring Rolls.  We also had a Smoothie drink with Strawberries and Melon… we sat and ate our food amongst the rest of the crowd, it was great food, I think we should have an event like this in our town, we could call it Taste of the Valleys the atmosphere was great, people from all over were here, including a couple from Wales!  We read in the magazine tips on how to take ‘selfie’ so we did that and as instructed, posted it on Facebook with the hashtag #saskatooning

 

#saskatooning

On the way back, we went to the liquor store for beer and wine.  The Mr got a free Bluetooth speaker with his beer and I had a free Selfie Stick with my wine, which was strange as we had just been reading about how to take a selfie … we had great fun trying them out.  The speaker lights up like a disco and the selfie stick works really well as you can see from the picture below.

Later in the evening Mavis went to pick up Joan and we sat out on the deck until Marty got back from golf with Henry, it was great to see them both again and catch up on all their news.  Later, Dwight, another golfing friend came by with his cool box full of beer and we had a great night filled with laughter and to top it off Mavis went out for Pizza… all we seem to do is eat, drink and make merry, just as we should on holiday!

Phew, what a great day. So to bed…

Next morning my intention was to get up early and write up the Grannyrant,  somehow I was distracted and I didn’t get around to it as we were too busy.

We ran out of bread, so we walked to the grocery store a round trip of almost a mile, great for our Fitbit step tally, which we have neglected lately!

We took a trip to Costco, a huge retail outlet that sells everything in bulk.  Clothes at this place are really cheap, I bought two pairs of walking trousers, the Mr bought a pair of Levi jeans and a couple of pairs of shorts, everything was third of the price it would have cost back home!  We love a bargain.

Marty and Mave usually got to the races on Saturday nights and we decided we would go.  We were all set until The Mr checked Google to see what the races were all about and read on the website that the racing was not on today for some reason…how disappointing, as we were all geared up to go.  Anyway, later, Mavis contacted Brad and Sue and the decision was made that we would go and visit them at their new house on the edge of town and watch the sun go down on their deck.

We have met lovely people on this holiday, everyone is so welcoming and Saskatooners are so laid back and easy to get along with.  Brad and Sue’s hospitality was second to none. They gave us a tour of their new house and we all went out onto the deck to settle in for the evening.

The view from this house is stunning and it’s looking out onto a wildlife area which is protected so the view will always be there as building isn’t allowed.  They have already seen Foxes and Deer but unfortunately, they weren’t around while we were there, the only wildlife around, were their dogs, Eddie and Wilson and their cat. Eddie took a shine to the Mr immediately and promptly decided to sit on his lap.

Brad is a connoisseur of Whisky and Marty has brought the Laphroaig we brought over from Wales for him, this may get messy 😊

Brad had three other Whiskies for us to try which we obviously had to do, it would be rude not to.  Needless to say, after a few hours, lots of booze and banter, we were all three sheets to the wind, apart from Mavis, who kindly drove us all home.  At home, we had another drink, which we needed like a hole in the head, before one by one we managed to crawl into bed.

We all slept the sleep of the dead and I got up at 09.30 to find Mavis already out on the deck…what a night, what great people and today we get to have a big family barbecue … non-stop, wall to wall, family fun …. Must get on now… TTFN  Granny!

 

 

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Day 14 – The End of the Road Trip – Let’s go to Saskatoon!

Good morning… Granny calling, today we get out of this flea ridden cabin and head to Saskatoon Saskatchewan to visit the family.

We had a terrible night again, we just couldn’t settle to sleep, so after 4 hours of tossing and turning, we decided at 05.15 to get up and get the hell out of this claustrophobic cave that masquerades as a quaint cabin.

So, we packed the small amount of stuff we had brought inside (mainly the valuables as we didn’t want our clothes inside), I wrote a message on their notice (see picture) and we slammed the door on the whole experience.  Let’s head for Saskatoon!

dav

The drive from Canmore to Saskatoon is almost 7 hours, depending on traffic and we have to go via the outskirts of Calgary on Stoney Trail, so we are going to stop off at Robyn’s to pick up Henry’s hat, which will add about 45 minutes on to our drive.  I think I mentioned before, that we met Henry and Joan when we here last time, they were really kind and we invited us to their house for a few drinks, we had a great time around their huge sunken fire pit in 2010.

Henry (strangely enough), likes Coronation Street (they are 6 months behind the UK) and also, Andy Capp!  So Joan has been messaging me to see if could bring a cap for Henry, like the one worn by Andy Capp… I found one at Festival Park in Ebbw Vale a few weeks before we came to Canada but we left it behind at Robyn’s when we left for our road trip.  So, after a quick trip to the house to pick up the hat, we set off for Saskatoon.  Our mega-drive was almost over.

We pootled along all day, the mountains faded into the distance, as we made our way out of Calgary and East towards Saskatchewan.  We stopped a few times at Tim Horton’s for coffee and at one point decided to have a bagel or something as we hadn’t eaten breakfast in the hell hole.

We went to order – “I’ll have a B.E.L.T on a 12 grain please.” (Bacon, Egg, Lettuce, Tomato on a multigrain bagel).  The Mr said “I’ll have Cheese and Egg Muffin and apportion of wedges please” and we also ordered the obligatory Tim’s Coffee.

We sat down and I started eating mine, then the wedges came but no Muffin… the Mr, returned to the counter “We ordered the Cheese and Egg Muffin?” the assistant checked the till “I’m sorry we didn’t hear you order that Sir”… So the Mr said, “well can I have it now please?”  Certainly Sir, just get back in the line and order it.  The queue was now 12 people long and so Mr H walked from the counter with a face like thunder and no Muffin… he was so angry…and hungry!  This is not a great combination …

On we drove… the scenery became flatter and the sky went on forever.  This is Prairie land and there are fields and fields of grain, Rapeseed and Lavender… you can smell the lavender on the warm air as we drive on and on for hours.  We drove through a really dramatic thunderstorm at one point, with heavy rain showers and lightening that hit the ground.  In this flat landscape, you can see it for miles and miles and it is so exciting to watch!

The Sat Nav said ‘after 461km turn right’ and this is common in this enormous country, people here think nothing of travelling for 4-6 hours to get somewhere.  So, you can usually see the road stretch out forever in a straight line. There is no end in sight, only warning every so often that there is a curve in the road.

Finally after around five and a half hours we saw a sign for Saskatchewan…hoorah… we’re almost there.  We will be so glad to get there.

The GPS now took us right into the City at rush hour and we were starting to think that this didn’t feel right, we went through at least 8 sets of traffic lights, in downtown Saskatoon before the Sat Nav said, you have reached your destination on the right.  Our destination was Saskatoon… we pulled in and retyped the address, it was already in there so who knows why it didn’t take us to the address?!

It took us a further 20 minutes or so, to drive back out of the City and out to Aunty and Uncle, Marty and Mavis’s house…but boy, what a welcome!

We had a beer on the deck and sat a while to talk about the journey and our trip.  Later on, they barbecued the steak and fish and we had a lovely meal, with yellow beans, salad and potatoes and the back out onto the deck for another few drinks … it was quite a warm night, the mozzies are kind to us and at 11.00 we crawled into bed for a much needed sleep … How nice it was, clean sheets, lovely surrounding and a fuzzy warm feeling.. you know the one you get from a few beers and a nice night catching up with family…. Goodnight … Granny 😊 zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Days 12 & 13 Hinton to Canmore, Rundle Cabins, Sulphur Mountains and Banff

e were up quite early and left the hotel at Hinton by 09.00.  We have to drive all the way back through the National Park and we should see Athabasca Falls on the way.  We were there in 2010 and it is well worth another visit.

The water here runs really fast and creates a lot of spray and if you get the sun on it at the right angle, the rainbows are magnificent!  We spent an hour there taking pictures and also picking up a few new Fly bites, I have about 6 now, to go with the little ones caused by black flies (like Gnats) and also a couple of Mozzie bites.  These Fly bites are vicious buggers and I now have two that look quite nasty.

This is normal for me, they seem to like my skin and blood, maybe it’s the red wine?  I need a Pharmacy soon, for some Hydrocortisone.  On we travelled, past numerous view points where we stop to take pictures.

Sunwapta Falls, was one we haven’t visited before and that was well worth the visit.  There is a Café there too and the sandwiches are to die for! So, we stopped for lunch.  The Mr, chose an Egg Salad sandwich, with a special dressing which was quite peppery but also a hint of sweetness and I chose a Beef sandwich with a horseradish dressing.  These sandwiches are amazing and hit the spot for lunch.

A bit further on there was a sign that said, “Goats and Mountains View Point”.  We pulled in and we had to walk a little way up a path to the opening… OMG, what a sight!  The Mountains and the River below were immense!  No Goats though… This really is an amazing journey through some of the most spectacular scenery.

 

Shortly after we passed the Columbia Icefields and stopped again to take pictures, we have been here before and it is obvious that the Glacier is receding really quickly.  It is quite sad to see the changing landscape … if we came back in ten years, I wonder what we will find?

This area is mountainous, huge piles of rock, stretching skywards like icebergs and against the blue sky, in this hot weather, it seems unimaginable that we can still see snow topped mountains … I mean, it is July and it is 32 degrees!  Stutfield is stunning …as you can see below.

On and on we drive, we are still hoping to see a Bear but hopes are fading as we will soon leave this area.  As we hurtle along in our Altima, we start to Climb a hill.  Suddenly, on the left, (we are driving on the right), there were cars stooping and pulling in all along the roadside… Could it be a Bear, or some other form of wildlife?  Not, it was little gem of a waterfall called Tangle Creek.  There were loads of people, walking up the falls, so we did what everyone else did and pulled in to gawp at it!  It seems there is something around every corner here, I have taken almost 1,000 photographs on this trip so far and we have quite a while to go yet!

We decided at this point, that we just needed to get to Canmore, as we have been driving for hours and we want to arrive before dinnertime, then get a taxi into town for food.  We are really looking forward to staying in a cabin that in Winter is used for people staying at Canmore for skiing.  I’m sure it must be really quaint here in Winter, but all is not what it is described as on Booking.com and it isn’t cheap.

As we turned off the main highway, the GPS took us into a carpark, for a lovely looking hotel.. unfortunately, we were next door.  Gee Whizz… it was like chalk and cheese to next door.

We couldn’t find anything on the internet in this area.  It’s July and everywhere is full… or so the websites say.  We tried Airbnb, Home-away, Expedia, Trivago, Booking.com and Trip Advisor.  There was nothing, so against our better judgment, we paid $399 (£305 approx) for two nights to stay at Rundle Cabins … we are campers, we are used to ‘roughing it’ so this should be fine.  It will be a great experience, we may see some wildlife?!  How wrong can you be?

When we pulled in, the lady in the office was really abrupt.  Now, she was Chinese and there was bit of a language barrier but we were polite and she was curt to say the least!  “It’s $399.16 …there is now refund right!  You stay in number 20.” (AKA Stalag 20).  She showed us how to get to it on the site map.  This is already toe curling.

When we saw the cabin, I could have cried and opening to door was even worse.  It was dark, smelly, very basic and not what we imagined at all!  On the plus side, the bed is clean and that’s it.  What a Hell Hole. Needless to say, after booking this on Booking.com our review will be suitably scathing.

We have no choice but to get on with it, s0 we decided to call a Taxi and go into Canmore for food.  We needed to escape Stalag 20.

dark and damp

broken cupboards

filthy

dirty shower 

dav

sdr

Inside the Kettle … yuk!

the oven,,, putrid!

Our taxi driver was a lovely, jovial Asian man, who had lived in Guildford until he was 6 and then emigrated to Canada.  He now lived part of the year in Calgary and the rest of the year in Canmore.  He is 74 years young and taxi driving is his hobby.  Her was a lovely man, so helpful and so apologetic that we were having such a bad experience with our cabin and told us we had been seriously ripped off with the price!  ** Note to self… do not use booking sites, always ring the hotel direct… there were plenty of rooms available for half the price!!

We had local beer and a lovely meal and rang the taxi man to collect us at 11, he was there right on time but we were not looking forward to sleeping in the cabin ☹

Anyway, we hardly slept a wink and the Mr was awake most of the night.  There is no air con, the fan whirred all night and we have been bitten to death despite all the windows and door being shut and the windows having Mozzie screens on.  At 05.30, I finally persuaded him to get back into bed and go to sleep and he did manage to get just over two hours.

We managed to get out by 09.30.  Today we are heading into Banff and we will take the Cable Car up to Sulphur Mountain.  We parked quite a way away and walked about hallway up the hill before deciding to jump on the shuttle bus for the rest of the climb to the Gondola

We were not disappointed apart from it being a little hazy up the top.  We were going to walk from the viewing platforms up to the top and we did get halfway up but it started to rain and we had no coats so we headed back to restaurant for lunch as we had decided to have lunch ‘up-top’ before we lift this morning. It was a carvery, which was excellent.  A Huge joint of Beef was being carved as we walked up to the counter and there was lots of Salmon for the Mr, who doesn’t eat meat.

 

We had a great day and topped it off with stating in Banff for a Veggie meal at Nourish.  What a great experience this was, a completely veggie meal and as a meat eater, I thoroughly enjoyed it… however, we still need to survive another night at Stalag 20 (BTW the cabin is also called The Monarch) .

We have decided to cut our road trip shorter by one day.  So, if we survive another night in Stalag 20, we will get up early, eat our Supermarket breakfast of fresh Strawberries, Melon and Satsumas and head for Saskatoon to see the folks.  We need to make a detour to Robyn’s house in Calgary as we left Henry’s hat behind and we need to take it with us….

Still having a great time, still living the dream despite Stalag 20.  Still a pair of born again teenagers driving all over the place causing mayhem. Still very grateful for all the adventures we experience.  TTFN Granny 😊  …. Next post from Saskatoon Saskatchewan

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Day 11 – The Park, the Lakes and the Elk!

Today we were in a dilemma.  Lakes, or Athabasca Falls?  We went to Athabasca Falls in 2010 with Robyn and Adam, it is stunning…but we haven’t been to Medicine Lake or Maligne Lake (pronounced Me-Leen) and we are near enough to do both, as Medicine, is on the way to Maligne.  Decision made, we headed for the lakes.

We drove out of Hinton and back into Jasper National Park.  We have a 4-day pass, so can come and go as we please, this is well worth doing as we will travel to Canmore and Banff which is also in the Park, over the next few days.

We drove up the valley, passing lakes and huge mountains on the way, until we saw the sign for Maligne Road, where we turned left onto a smaller road, lined either side by Pine Trees.  Some of the trees are turning red and although this looks pretty, there is something serious going on here.  They are being attacked by a Mountain Pine Beetle (you can read more here) and it is happening all over the national park and we have seen it elsewhere on our journey, it is devastating the forests and is very worrying.

There are Bear warning signs everywhere, “If you encounter wildlife, please stay in your vehicle – all wildlife are dangerous” but people are cycling, walking with their kids and dogs and taking no notice.  This makes me feel uneasy … do they not believe that the bears are there?  Do they know something we don’t?

We drove around 20km at 60km per hour (quite slowly roughly 37mph) as there may be wildlife on the road, so the speed limit is always lower.  However, after driving almost 35km, we only saw one female Pheasant and an adult Bald Eagle soaring in the sky but didn’t manage to get a picture of either!  Getting pictures of wildlife is difficult, as you can’t stop the car, or of there is a bird flying overhead, they often disappear behind the trees!

After a while, we came across an area of forest that had quite obviously been devastated by fire.  The trees were like black cocktail sticks, jutting out of the mountainside and it looked quite desolate and eerie.  This was the result of a large wildfire in 2015 and it just goes to show how long it takes for the land to recover.  This is especially relevant to us now, as we are reading stories of our own area back home being ravaged by hill fires that are deliberately started.  Here in the national park, the fire was the result of a lightning strike and this is quite common here in Canada.

Medicine Lake is stunning with the clear blue lake stretching as far as the eye can see, This area (apart from the viewing point) is completely unspoiled apart from the wildfire damage and apparently there are Caribou around, although we never see any.

On we drove to Maligne.  It was quite a long drive, as 32km at 60km per hour is very slow but OMG the Lake is an absolute jewel of a place and so worth the visit.

 

We spent a couple of hours taking pictures and stopped for a sandwich.

An egg croissant for the Mr $16 and a Beef and Jalapeño sandwich for me $18 a bit expensive but with this view, you can’t really complain.

We travelled back to Jasper to finish off the day.  Mr Holt bought a tee shirt he fancied yesterday, we had a beer sat outside a bar and had ice cream.  Then we ambled back to the car to travel back to Hinton.  It is still 32 degrees and we are roasting!

Travelling back through the now familiar scenery, we saw that vehicles in front were slowing down, brake lights were coming on and we wondered what could be going on?  Suddenly we saw a magnificent Elk, walking up the roadside and after struggling to get the camera ready and getting the lens cap off, I managed to take some pictures… how wonderful to see this majestic animal in the wild.

So our day was complete, what a great trip and we are now hungry and tired, just as we should be.  So supper once again at the Chinese next door and a relaxing evening before moving on tomorrow.  We are so lucky to be able to travel like this and we are grateful for every experience gained on thos journey.

Goodnight from me and goodnight from him… more tomorrow …Granny 😊

 

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Day 10 – Changing Direction – Whoops!

Well, if you are following this blog day to day, you will realise that I made a huge faux pas yesterday and almost sent us 5 hours in the wrong direction.  As a result, I was online at 06.30 trying to find somewhere to stay in the Jasper National Park which is extremely difficult in July!

Eventually I realised that we were not going to be able to stay in Jasper unless we wanted to pay $600 (around £450) for 2 nights.  I’m no skinflint but that was not an option.  We don’t do rip off prices and what we would get for our money was nothing special.  So, we opted to stay at Hinton, which is on the edge of the National Park and 30 minutes from Jasper Town.  The journey to the Hotel covered some great scenery, it was really beautiful.

Anyway, back to this morning. We are heading for Jasper via the road north out of Clearwater, then east on highway 16 (Yellowhead pass) to Jasper. I recently read that this is a very scenic route and we weren’t disappointed. This route takes you through Mount Robson Park.  Mount Robson is the highest peak in the Canadian Rockies and there is an area where you can stop and take some pictures.

 

At one point you can stop at the Terry Fox memorial and read the inspirational story of this courageous young man who did the Marathon of Hope as an amputee … this story is new to me but should be shared, please read it via the link.  It is well worth knowing about.

To say this Mountain has the WOW factor is an understatement.  We were not expecting it and as we drove around a corner it jumped at us, like a huge iceberg in the middle distance!  It was stunning.  I can’t explain how totally jaw dropping this sight was!

I asked a lovely Canadian couple if they would take a picture of us and we could return the favour.  The man said his family was from Norwich in the UK …small world isn’t it?!  We had a chat about our journey, they were from Calgary and then we parted to carry on our way.  I love meeting new people and sharing experiences.

On we go … driving is tedious sometimes but there is so much to see… past Mad River past Blue River …all good western names methinks, on and on until finally we start to see signs for Jasper.  The scenery becomes so much more diverse and the signs warn of wildlife in the road.

We pay for 4 days in the National Parks as we will be driving in and around Jasper, Hinton, Banff and Canmore over the next few days.   $98 seems a small price to pay for such a spectacular place.

On the way to Hinton, we were warned to take care as there may be wildlife on the road… we were hoping for Bears, Elk or Moose…but all we got was a scruffy looking long haired sheep.  Poor thing looked like she was on her last legs ☹ the picture isn’t good as it was taken through the windscreen, as you’re not allowed to stop.

We spent the afternoon in Jasper, we had lunch, the Mr ate pizza and I had a Greek Salad, which was gorgeous.  I am a bit miffed, as people seem to want to call me ‘dear’ …do I look that old?

We looked in the shops and took pictures in the town, before heading back to the car and toward Hinton to our Hotel.  It looks like a nice hotel and there is a Chinese right opposite. Great news!

The Hotel is nice, very modern and clean but we have huge bags and there are no lifts.  Really? We paid how much?  The staff were abrupt too, so they didn’t get good feedback on the Expedia app.  Customer service costs nothing and this wasn’t good.

The Chinese was amazing.  Vietnamese Spring Rolls and a Red Curry for me, Veggie Spring Rolls and Deep fried Prawns for him.  The waitress was pleasant and teased Mr pescatarian by saying there was meat in his beer, considering the language barrier this joke worked well.

The waitress said she was tired as they had served a large bus full of 26 Chinese people, so we teased her back, saying we had told a group of 50 friends on a bus  to come at 10pm as the food was great… I don’t think she was impressed.  We had a laugh about it though.

So here we are, in Hinton, drinking a $26 bottle of Gewürztraminer from paper cups.  Me typing up the Grannyrant and him snoring after too much food, a long drive and a few beers.  What a day, what a trip, how lucky we are. …. Night night …Granny x

 

 

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Day 9 – The Road Trip Continues, Penticton to Clear Water and Lac de Jeune

Highway 5 – or The Coquihalla Highway boasts some stunning views and is a great way to travel through the mountains. The Highway (also known as the Coq”; pronounced “coke”), consists of 186 km (116 mi) of freeway, varying between four and six lanes with a posted speed limit of 120 km/h (75 mph). The Coquihalla traces through the Cascade Mountains the route of the former Kettle Valley Railway, which existed between 1912 and 1958. It is so-named because near Hope, it  follows the Coquihalla River, for about 60 km (37 mi), and uses the Coquihalla Pass.

There are roadworks on Boulder Mountain Pass and the poor man with the STOP sign, could hardly be seen amidst the cloud of dust caused by the heavy machinery.  Everything is so dry here at the moment and we have spotted a few small wildfires on the mountains as we speed along.

As we dropped down into the valley below, the buildings and farmhouses still look very traditional, like something from an old Western movie and the temperature, which was only 15 degrees at the top of the mountain, shot up to 27 degrees.

 

We decided to take a break and found a lovely Lake called Lac Le Jeune we made a sandwich and sat for over 40 minutes watching people picnicking and paddling canoes.

I always have my camera on me and I am so glad I did today.  At the lake, I heard the squeal of a bird of prey.  Is it a Buzzard?  Looks similar but I’m not sure, so I asked a Canadian (as you do) “Oh.” he said “It’s just a juvenile Eagle!”  “What kind of Eagle?” says I… “A Bald Eagle”  OMG – I am sure they are nothing to Canadians but I am over the moon!  I have never seen one before and even though the photographs are not amazing and I was shooting into the sun, I am cock-a-hoop to have seen this 🙂 and also, the Common Loon – another first.  I am so glad we stopped here.

 

As we left the lake and carried on towards Clearwater we caught our first sight of the North Thompson River. We were to follow this River for miles, it ran the full length of the valley as we drove through Blue Water and Barriere on our way to Clearwater.  The Mountains in the distance have snow on the top and the air, although warm, is fresh and not humid as it is in the City.

We are going to stay at The Watauga Motel and we can’t wait to get there now.  It is hot and the driving is tiring for the Mr.  He doesn’t want me to drive, even though I have offered.  He likes to be in control.  There is no way of him not driving the whole way, so I just write about it.

Another short stop and we saw this lovely bird.  I believe it to be an Eastern Bluebird from my Google search but I’ll stand corrected if anyone knows different.  He was a bit too far away but I had to get a picture.

Not long after this, we stopped at a Supermarket and picked up some pasta and sauce for supper and after a few glasses of wine, some beer and a sit on the porch, we were both in bed by 9.

There is more to write here but it will have to wait, as he has packed the car and I only have time to upload this far.  So watch this space!  …

UPDATE

So. to continue…just after I got into bed last night, the Mr was checking out today’s trip to Whistler.  All of a sudden he said “Do you realise that Whistler is 5 hours in the wrong direction?” … “What?”  “Are you sure?” says I.  Oh yes…. what a monumental ‘Cock-up’.  In my dilemma trying to find somewhere in Jasper and only finding one property which was over $600 for 2 nights.  I clicked on the ‘People who looked at this property, also looked at these’ button.

OMG what now I thought but we decided it was too late, we were too tired and it would have to wait until the morning.  So at 06.30 this morning, I was trawling the internet for a room.  We always like to wing it and it usually works but on the odd occasion it doesn’t…

We usually laugh at these things and as you will read tomorrow.  All’s well that ended well.  TTFN Granny ….

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