Saturday, 28 December 2013

Alberta Clipper

We left on Friday 27 on our trek westward for another glorious season of skiing the mountains of British Columbia.  An early start from Terrace Bay. 

The weather was not ideal as the temperature was - 21 c though it did warm up throughout the day.  The phrase: Don't wish for something you would be sorry for.  Well the warm temps also brought in snow, which turned to wet snow with slippery conditions.
We heard about the Comfort Bakery in Vermilion Bay was an amazing place for good coffee and tasty lunch.  It was 2 p.m. and we are now hungry, frazzled and looking for some mojo and food.  "There it is, on the right" I pointed.  Only to find snow banks piled up at the front door. The parking lot was in hibernation til spring.  The sign said CLOSED.  Not funny.....
Treats from the cooler. Cold Spanakopita was the lunch special.  Tasty, but cold and no coffee.  Could be worse. (lunch could have been frozen solid)

 Freezing rain welcomed us in Manitoba as the temperature rose to a bomby -3c.  It was touch and go for a while.  Great driving Bob. The adrenalin was rushing through my body.  Bob kept seemingly calm.  The afternoon was much better as the roads were wet and bare. 
Trans Canada, Manitoba
Doubtingly we reached our destination for the first day....Steinbach, Manitoba.  Too tired for restaurant fare, we decided to munch on our stash from our over abundant surplus of Christmas leftovers and treats.  It was an early bedtime.

Good morning to more snow!  Blizzard would be a better choice of words.  An Alberta Clipper. (sounds like a prairie land yacht) Since I have no idea how this storm front is named, here is the Wikopedia explanation:
An Alberta clipper (also known as a Canadian Clipper) is a fast moving low pressure area which generally affects the central provinces of Canada and parts of the Upper Midwest and Great Lakes regions of the United States.[1] Most clippers occur between December and February, but can also occur occasionally in the month of November. Alberta clippers take their name from Alberta, Canada, the province from which they appear to descend, and from clipper ships of the 19th century, one of the fastest ships of that time.[2]

Sorry, Too nasty to get out and take photographs

The thermometer took a quick dive to -23 as we frantically loaded our Jeep for day two.  NASTY, ugly and "where did the road go?" as we limped our way out of Steinbach onto the Trans Canada Highway.  Bob could feel his eyeballs freeze as he stepped out of the Jeep to gas up.  Wind chill of -37 we are told.  A dry cold they say. I say "Frigid"

We crossed the Manitoba/Saskatchewan border after lunch.  They say "sunny Saskatchewan" for a reason. 
Sunny Saskatchewan, Who'da guessed?
As soon as we crossed....yes, the sun did appear and all was beautiful.  We could feel our bodies relax as the warmth of the sun heated the cabin of our Jeep.  My turn to drive again.  Did you know the speed limit in Saskatchewan is 110 kph?  Yes, time to make time. The prairie roads are long, flat and wide.  It would be so tempting to see how fast a car would go. 
One hour time change as we drive chasing the sun, we gained an hour of sunlight.  Our destination for day 2 was successful: Swift Current, Saskatchewan.

A hot shower, early bedtime and day three we will see Calgary in time for dinner with our good friends Stan and Liz.  Hugs first, as it has been two years since we saw Stan and  three years for  Liz.

Monday, 23 December 2013

The Great White North(west)

Koo Ko ko ko, Koo ko ko!  It's that time of year again when Bob and Doug McKenzie, true Canadian "Hosers" sing the 12 Days of Christmas.

Bob and I have our own version, tailored to living in Terrace Bay, Ontario.

BobCats 12 Days of Christmas: Terrace Bay style

On the first day of Christmas, My true love gave to me:
One Northern Snow Scoop.  (Yes, he did actually buy this for me....said it was my Christmas present.  You think?)
Just warming up the scoop!

On the second day of Christmas, My true love gave to me:
Two pairs of snowshoes. 

On the third day of Christmas, My true love gave to me:

                                                      Comfort Table (SUPER.!)
Comfort Table Bakery, Vermillion Bay
Three days of driving.  Day 1 Vermillion Bay for coffee and Steinbach, Manitoba for the night.,+ON&daddr=Steinbach,+MB,+Canada&hl=en&sll=47.901614,-90.791016&sspn=12.968869,27.224121&geocode=FQ1j6AIdSwTP-ilN6E5C1FNDTTFawRXg7UnWzQ%3BFUm08wIdj7g8-ikvVB7ZoTXAUjHbpLxe6uuZ8g&oq=Steinba&t=h&mra=ls&z=7

On the fourth day of Christmas, My true love gave to me:
Four dozen Biscotti. (chocolate, of course) O.K. he helped taste the broken ones. After the double bake, I let the biscotti cool in the oven overnight.  The next morning, I found Bob with his head in the oven. Caught you red handed!

Double Chocolate Biscotti

On the fifth day of Christmas, My true love gave to me: 
Five golden beers.  Really six....I had to taste one to see if it was still fresh.
5 o'clock....happy hour

On the sixth day of Christmas, My true love gave to me:

yummy breakfast

Six pounds of bacon. 
Brennen, our local butcher ordered us a pork belly.  We brined it in rosemary, salt and spices. Bob smoked it on the BarB Que for 3 hours with hickory chips.  Chef Bob cooked me up a yummy mouthwatering breakfast! 

On the seventh day of Christmas, my true love gave to me:
Seven wooly Touques.  Well, not really,  I knit the touqes, but he looks good wearing them.

On the eighth day of Christmas, My true love gave to me:
Eight days of Dog sitting.  Dexter,  you look like a Dingo, and run like a deer.  He is training us well.
He managed to train Bob and I to sit on the floor pretty!

On the nineth day of Christmas, My true love gave to me:
Nine pairs of ski socks.    It's bad luck to wash those lucky socks. See how long they last before washing.  Will Bob do the wiffy test? You need to wait until they walk out from under the bed by themselves.

On the tenth day of Christmas, My true love gave to me:
Ten pairs of hand warmers.  It's cold outside at 7,000 feet!

On the eleventh day of Christmas, My true love gave to me:
Eleven frigid days of winter.  Enough is enough.  -25+ is cold with or without sunshine! This ain't no steam bath.
Hydro Bay, Lake Superior

On the twelveth day of Christmas, My true love gave to me:
Twelve days to pack.    The count down is on.......Panno here come a couple of ski Bums.

And it all has to go in the bear barrel.....

Great White North, with Bob and Doug.

MERRY CHRISTMAS...see you on the slopes!


Tuesday, 19 November 2013

North by Northwest

Hiking the Casques Isle Trail
Where has the summer gone?  It seems like we had just moved to our new home in Terrace Bay.  Now I look back and it has been 1 year now and ski season is just around the corner.

And a Blue Elephant

Since my last blog post, much has happened. (I don't have enough space to post all our adventures, so here it goes)
I will begin after we returned from our trip to Vancouver Island:

Great Big Sea @ Thunder Bay Bluesfest

June: After flying home from Vancouver, we collected our thoughts, washed our dirty laundry, repacked, loaded up the Jeep and drove south to visit our family and friends.

 A stopover in Mancelona, Michigan to visit our very good friends,
 Jim and Sherry for a few days, we arrive at the beginning...Southern Ontario. Deja Vu...911!  I think this was a bigger scare than the initial 911 call I had to make on our second day in our new home in Terrace Bay. It was 4 am (the magic hour it seems) and Bob could not breathe.  So, off to the hospital again.  Long story short.  The final diagnosis was confirmed.  A blood clot formed in the leg and travelled up to his lung.  Thankfully, it was a quick diagnosis and treatment from the Paramedic to cardiologist.  It could have been fatally worse.  The clot developed from the long travel to Vancouver, return flight, delays, and 15 hour drive from Terrace Bay to Hamilton....all within a compressed time frame.  (a deadly cocktail mix of events) A bump in the road so to speak and only 3 days in hospital taken from our "vacation" 
After the Doc let Bob loose, we carried on. "Nothings going to stop us now" (our wedding song) from Jefferson Starship.  We had a blast visiting with our family and friends.
We apologize to our friends that we did not visit. trip back! That was the month of June.  It quickly flew by.

Epic Adventures
Back in Terrace Bay, for July, we made an attempt at gardening.  Our new neighbours, clearly realized we were "Southerners" smiled as we planted too early and the frost had nibbled on our tiny little plants as we replanted again at the end of June. This past summer has been on the cool side, even in North Western Ontario, as our garden suffered. So, we kayaked instead. A better choice indeed.

Reflections of Hays Lake

Lake Superior is such a strong and powerful body of water.  What looks calm and flat from the shore is an illusion.  Trust me on this one.  What seems to be a calm, sunny afternoon on shore, becomes an illusionist's trick as we paddle out to the point in open waters.

 Wolf Eyes

The rollers and winds makes the biggest roller coaster ride seem passive. After a few adrenalin surges, we found Hays Lake and Whitesand Lake, both interior and much more calm.  It still amazes me how much there is to experience, all within a few kilometres around us. 
The photos will express the serenity and beauty of the waters.

Lunch time At Hays Lake
 We floated as a couple of Bald Eagles soared above our boats.  Oh, and the blueberries!  A Sea of blue pearls!  And delicious.

August:  company's comin'....and a trip to Neys Provincial Park. It's chillin' time on the beach.  One of the most beautiful beaches in Canada. (our opinion only) at Neys Provincial Park. For a week our life revolves around the biggest freshwater lake in the world. So, during that week Sherry and I built a fort on the beach. Once completed, our luxury shelter now all equipped with seating for 6, paddle up bar and wind resistant dining area. It was a short week for sure.

The Gang in our new Fort

Jim and Sherry returned to Terrace Bay with us to spend a few extra days, hiking and foraging for Saskatoon Berries, Blue Berries, and anything that looks edible.  Jimmy will eat almost anything.  A worry for Sherry.


The girls

September: Good friends Maureen and Cheryl come for a week long menopause pyjama party!  WOW... heat, energy, laughter and poor Bob!

Mo and baking bread

Chef Cheryl and fresh baked bagels 
And then....  Back to Southern Ontario.  This time, ambulance free!  And about time.  Bob has a clean bill of health, 130% recovered and better than ever!  Thanks to Dr. Czolpinski for being there for both of us. 

A very special visit with our family as we celebrated 5 birthdays, Thanksgiving and Christmas.

Bob & The kids, almost all of them!
All complete with a fully decorated tree! 

After our Christmas, Birthday celebration we headed off to the "Farm" to spend a few days .... a surprise birthday wine tour with our very special friends Roland and Carol.  Potato Beer, A Blue Elephant, Wind Farms and fond memories. 

Happy Birthday Bob & Cat (with Roland & Carol)

Where is the impaired parking?
Life is so special.

October: Regroup and training for ski season.   YES......YES..........It's onward and Westward. Back to British Columbia.  Panorama, here we come. The razor is tucked away, the hair is longer (Bob) and in a pony tail.... training has begun.
 This year, we will be house sitting for good friends in Windermere. Our season's passes are hot and ready to go.  We have been training at the gym, hiking and climbing Trestle Ridge ski hill, daily here in Terrace Bay. My very special friend, Louise is my inspiration to get out each and almost every day as we both work hard, turning flubber into muscles, building stamina, include a rant or two, and just having fun (sweat included)

so, in the meantime....we wait, watch for falling snowflakes, train our bodies and dream of another glorious season North by Northwest my friends.

Boredom is non existent if you are willing to play outside. 

Sunday, 2 June 2013

Oh look! it's Dora the Knitting Explorer

totem pole outside the Parliament Buildings
Yes....On our way from Tofino to Victoria we were driving through (well almost) Duncan.  Jean one of my dear knitting friends (yes, a close knit bunch) warned me about "The Loom"  a spinners' and knitters' haven.  The tiny shoppe absolutely stuffed to the ceiling and every nook and cranny with all types of wool, yarn and everything in between.  Yep!  I was warned.  The car took an automatic left hand turn, directly into a parking spot reserved just for us.  Even Bob knew we were in trouble.  Here we met Dora.
Dora is Dutch by decent.  She began teaching knitting at the Loom 40 odd years ago.  She was offered a job at the shoppe.  Dora said she would work only 2 days a week.  That was over 30 years ago.  I think she has knit every sample and swatch in the shoppe.  A lovely lady.  Under complete control, I browsed around (I needed more time, but we have a destination to arrive at and before midnight)  I came across a merino/silk sliver.  (a batt of roving)  A very large one indeed. Now, I just need to find room in the suitcase.  (should have thought of that before I purchased it)  And, of course, Bob picked the colour.  He is partial to blue!
Fisgard Lighthouse

After our diversion, we headed towards Victoria where the sun was shining. Here we will spend 2 days wandering around the most southern end of the Island and the capital of British Columbia.
The drive was enough for the day.  We needed a nap as playing tourist is very tiring.  We tried to resist sleep even though the temptation to go out on such a bright and sunny day,  (Unusual for May), but we were succumbed by the fluffy pillows and warm blankets. A quiet evening for both of us.  And, besides, the hockey game was on TV.

Did you know:  Southern Vancouver Island has the mildest climate in Canada.

Victoria was named Canada's fittest city by Statistics Canada in 2006. 

Victoria is known as "The City of Gardens"

Victoria has the 2nd highest number of restaurants per capita in North America.  San Francisco is # 1.

The Empress Hotel serves 750,000 cups of tea each year.

It is home to the world's tallest free standing totem pole, in Beacon Hill Park.

Our first order of the day:  Parliament Buildings.  We caught the 11:00 am tour.  And of course, I am taking photos of the stained glass windows.  As I lag behind the tour, I have 2 guards eyeing me.  Better Catch up,  and no, I don't look like a sly rebel plotting against the government.
Our guide

Next morning: Fort Rodd Victoria,  A coastal artillery fort built in the 1890's as a first line of defence  for the Esquimalt Naval Base.
Fort Rodd

 Time to catch the 12 o'clock Ferry from Sidney to Vancouver proper.  Perfect time for a realaxing lunch and watch the boats in contrast to the ocean waters with the Rocky Mountains in the back drop as we sailed the Strait of Georgia. 

Ferry ride through the Strait of Georgia
With many attempts, I Tried to take  photos on board and outside.  The boat was swaying from side to side as gale force winds blew me backwards, along with other photographers trying to catch that perfect shot. It was Comical watching the hair stand on end as everyone on deck was clinging to the rails and walls.

Once in Vancouver, we quickly toured Chinatown (Canada's largest) Gas town, and Grandville Island.  A full day....
 Our last dinner of our trip was at the Boathouse in Richmond.  A surreal experience, much like a "Buck Rogers" episode.  We had jet planes above us taking off and landing every few minutes, float planes in the distance, highway overpasses on one side and boats of all sizes in the marina on the other as we sat outside at sunset viewing all the activity.
Bob and I have eaten salmon almost every day, breakfast, lunch and dinner on our trip, as it is so tasty and fresh.  Steelhead, sockeye, blackened, poach, benedict and sliders. Vancouver's official fish.    All delicious!

Tomorrow we fly... 11:00am from Vancouver to Toronto, to Thunder Bay.  We arrive the next morning in the wee hours of the day. 

And one more comment:  I did make the statement that B.C. was home of the Inukshuk.  I was incorrect:  It is  home of the Totem Pole.  The home of the Inukshuk is Inuvik (home of people)Northwest Territories. Thank you Pam! (once a teacher, always a teacher,  hugs from Bob and myself)
Great trip!  Thank you to all the people we met on our travels.  Canada is such a welcoming and friendly place to play, dance and live.

Just thinking....6 months to ski season!

Saturday, 1 June 2013

Botannicals of the west coast

Our last breakfast at Harvey House. 
Of all the places we have stayed, Chris and Nicky have spoiled us, made us welcome and feel at home.  They built this house 7 years ago (all local contractors and materials)  It has become a beautiful home with all their hard work,  nestled within tall cedars, redwoods on Chestermann's Beach.  Again, Thank you!

Chestermann's Beach, Tofino
Thank you Nicky and Chris


Our last day in Tofino before we head south to Victoria.  The Island is bigger than we thought.  Six hours to our next destination.  Mind you, there are NO straight roads. 

Winding, climbing and descending through lush forests (I will call the forests "Land of the Ewok") Mysteriously thick with green.

Old Man's Beard

We spent our last full day visiting the Botanical Gardens in Tofino.  Mysterious.....Hidden creatures among the trees, wood carvings, chickens manicuring the organic herbs.


We couldn't get enough of Cathedral Grove. So, back again. 
This time we hiked the south side.  Well worth the return trip.  Here we came upon the biggest Douglas fir in the park.  800 hundred years old, 9 meters in circumference and 76 meters high. (the Leaning tower of Pizza is 56 meters high) We are dwarfed by the majestic king of the forest.
Largest Douglas Fir

After lunch, we did the tourist trail around the town of Chemainus.  It is know for the beautiful murals painted on all the buildings throughout the town.  Funky and quaint at the same time.
The Japanese community of Chemainus consisted of 300 residents who settled in the valley from 1900 - 1942. Some were mill workers, fisherman and businessmen. 

Their homes were from Maple Street to Esplanade Street.  The Okada settlement was at the south end of the Bay.  In the summer of 1991 a reunion was held to welcome back the former residents; the Japanese Canadian Redress foundation and Communications Canada sponsored some of the murals.

The first recorded export of lumber from Chemainus was on September 25, 1863.  Hard labour was the order of the day as the Chinese bull gangs moved the timber on a 2 wheeled cart from the yard to the sailing vessel.

Chemainus is well worth a visit.  Small things come in great packages!

So, after a long travel day, we landed in Victoria.  Here we will stay a couple of days, as we are coming to the end of our travels to the West Coast of Canada.

An early nite.....we're getting tired.

Chemainus Harbour:  Logging Ship