621. Sunday 10th June 2018, Calgary Zoo, family BBQ and a flight to Vancouver…

This post is back to the usual format of a full week but next week may be daily posts. It depends on what adventures come our way.

This is still a long post with lots of photos.

Monday 4th June 2018

So begins a new week here in Calgary. Donnis will be spending most of her days with her mum in the nursing home.

I am struggling with the tail end of the head cold and because of the dry climate when I blow my nose there is some blood. Yuk. Yes I know. Perhaps I did not need to tell you that. Just be aware that a dry climate can be disruptive to your sinuses. Joan has a humidifier which we need to put into our bedroom. Fingers crossed it helps me. I had no problems in Vancouver or PEI as they both have some humidity closer to what I am used to. Each morning when I wake, my tongue is stuck to the roof of my mouth. Donnis also has the same problem.

Any light exertion here in Calgary does not bother me as we are 1,045 m above sea level. However in the mountains around Golden and Kicking Horse the average height above sea level is 1,627 metres. Normal walking was OK but once there was an incline my breathing became laboured.

It is the beginning of summer but the nights and early mornings are cool to cold. When the sun does appear there is little warmth until almost midday.

Road workers carrying out maintenance as well as new projects are in full swing and there are barriers and Stop Slow people everywhere. Alberta is the corporate centre of the sand oil extraction industry. Alberta Province and particularly Calgary is in a financially healthy condition. There is an abundance of money. New buildings, new roads, new housing projects are very evident. All this work going on does contribute to traffic problems. That said, there is a bust side to the boom. Many sand oil jobs have been cut in recent months. The cost of a barrel of oil is around $60 at present. At one stage in 2016 it was as low as $26 a barrel. The loss of about 20,000 jobs in the last 12 months has meant the bottom has fallen out of the real estate market. Houses are sitting, For Sale for 12 months with no buyers. Part of the problem has been the boom when houses in new estates were being offered at the same or lesser price than an established house. (Hmmm. Sounds like the Airlie Beach real estate market)

The Province of Alberta is rich in a natural resource – sand oil. At present the oil is exported to other Provinces and more particularly to the USA. That oil is sent to market in BC and the port of Vancouver by miles and miles of railway tankers.  Alberta wants to build a CAN$7.4 billion pipeline through the Province of British Columbia to Vancouver. The pipeline would deliver many benefits to BC including reduced fuel costs. Today a litre of unleaded in Alberta is on average $1.20.3. In BC that same litre of fuel is $1.57.7 on average. So BC residents are paying roughly an additional 30 cents per litre for fuel. The BC Government has voted NO to the pipeline but demanded the oil be landed in Vancouver for the same price as Alberta despite having to be shipped hundreds of Klms by rail. Not surprisingly, there is a heated two Province disagreement which does not appear will be resolved easily. Jobs and economic benefit versus environmental concerns is no different here than it is in Australia where the argument is about coal extraction and shipping. Two sides with equally good arguments with no winners.

Today I accompanied Joan on a shopping excursion to Costco. That was an experience, sort of like watching Walmart people videos. Costco people are different. It seems going to Costco is a family event. Mum, Dad and three kids, at least one in a pram. Family groups are everywhere. After shopping they all gather at the food court area where you can have lots of food for only a few dollars (plus tax). Most of the food is high carbs, high cheese content, deep fried and highly processed. Hot dogs, giant size, sell for $1.50 while a large coffee is $1.99. Coffee comes in one size – large. A slice of pizza, as large as a regular pizza is $1.99. Mostly, it seems, the people eating here are overweight.

In the food department everything is in wholesale lots. If you want a can of mushroom soup you need to buy a carton of 12. Want cereal? It is only available in a box of a minimum of two bags. A kilo of minced meat, you have to buy a package which contains 2 x 1 kg bags.

A single person or a couple would probably spend more than they save.

However there are some items which are well priced. A pre- packaged Caesar salad at least three times larger than you can buy at Woollies or Coles in Australia for $5 at Costco is $8.99. (later when we opened the salad I changed my opinion. The Costco salad was terrible. There were no bacon pieces and the lettuce leaves were all stems.)

Shopping at Costco, especially the one we visited at Heritage Gate, which is the busiest store in Canada, is organised chaos. Staff, and there is lots of staff, are friendly and helpful. They are constantly picking up things like clothing which customers just drop on the floor. For those who do not shop at Costco be aware you need to be a member with a photo id card to gain entry. Guests must be accompanied by the member and guests cannot buy under their own name.

Tuesday 5th June

Another lay day for me, while it was a look after mum day for Donnis. After dinner we drove to the airport to meet Alecia who has flown in from the oil fields for a few days.

Wednesday 6th June

Tonight I fired up the BBQ and we invited Simone and Lazar for dinner. Joan had bought some Short Loin Lamb Chops from…Costco…imported from Australia (lamb is an expensive luxury in Canada). Alecia made a rub of butter and Rosemary. I cooked some huge sweet potatoes on the BBQ until the skin blackened and juices began to seep out and veggie kebabs on the BBQ and set them aside while I quickly seared the chops in the flames created by the melting butter. I reduced the heat and slowly cooked the chops until juices began to flow. I let them rest until the table was set. All were impressed at how the meat was pink, juicy and tender and the sweet potato just slipped out of the blackened skin. Better than throwing a shrimp on the barbie any day.

Friday 8th June

Today we took Donnis for a Chiropractic appointment. Alecia and I went for a drive. We saw a huge Church of Latter Day Saints – Mormon – High on a hill overlooking Calgary.   https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Church_of_Jesus_Christ_of_Latter-day_Saints_in_Canada

080618 mormomThe church and grounds are very well maintained, almost picture perfect. Compared to most other churches it really stands out as an example of wealth.080618 mormom1080618 calgary-alberta-temple-lds-1058967-wallpaper

Afterwards we joined Simone, Andrea, baby Evan and young Miles for a day at Calgary Zoo.

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Initially I was somewhat disappointed in what I thought was a small number of animals. 080618 zoo023The enclosures are large and roomy and many are set up to take into account the climactic conditions the animals would encounter.

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The eyelids on Giraffe always make them look serene.

Photography was often difficult as viewing chambers were partitioned with glass which is often scratched, smudged, dirty and reflects other images.

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One of the first exhibits we saw on arrival were the penguins. The waterway runs through the rocks to an indoor facility which has subdued lighting plus snow and ice all around . The penguins all seem well fed and happy. I guess there are no seals, walrusses, birds of prey or other creatures trying to turn a penguin into a light meal.
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Inside the penguin enclosure is this large poster displaying some of the things which are happening due to climate change.

The zoo is divided in various themes such as Canadian, African, Asia, South America and even Dinosaurs. The Canadian section includes both Grizzly

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Grizzly Bear. Just take a look at those claws. Volunteers walk around the zoo giving little talks on various animals. They showed us a claw from a grizzly and compared it to a Black Bear. The Grizzly claws are much larger…all the better to dig with…or slice open an enemy. They cannot climb trees. Black Bears with smaller claws can climb trees. I guess you first need to determine if you are being threatened by a Grizzly or a Black. If its a Grizzly you can climb a tree to safety. If its a Black Bear then you need a different escape plan.

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and Black bears,

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An Albino, White, Black Bear. Which sort of looks like a Polar Bear but isn’t. There are no Polar Bears on display at Calgary Zoo.

Moose, Bison, Mountain Sheep

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This fine specimen of what I woud have called a Muntain Sheep or even Mountain Goats is in reality a Dall’s Sheep. Same thing really. Yes it looks like a stuffed animal but it is alive and breathing surveying its limited territory about the size of three or four average house lots.

and goats of various species and even a Rocky Mountain Cougar.

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This Cougar in its den (another animal you need to be aware of when hiking along forest trails in Canada) was watching the attendant cleaning another part of its enclosure. There was a fence between them which can be re-opened once the cleaning is finished.

Some animals, such as the Lemurs have a large almost interactive enclosure.

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Entry is gained via a heavily gated enclosure and a bridge. An area is loosely roped off but the Lemurs are free to walk amongst visitors although crouching down to their head height or trying to pat them is actively discouraged.  Wisely the Lemurs keep their distance from humans.

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Everybodies favourite, the Meerkat.

About 5 years ago I visited the Western Plains Zoo at Dubbo NSW and one of the animals which fascinated me was the Hippopotamus.

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There they had a large enclosure including areas of a couple of hectares to waddle around and a huge waterhole to do what Hippos do best. I was able to photograph a Hippo with its mouth wide open. Here the Hippos seemed to want to sleep a little and swim a little. 080618 zoo020Their water hole was not all that large but was enclosed on one side by a glass wall. I guess the idea is to see the Hippo underwater although in this case the glass was covered with algae on the inside. Hippos defecate in the water and their little tail acts like a propeller to break up the solid matter in the water. The water here is murky, I guess there is a lot of fecal matter in suspension.

The butterfly atrium was a sort of habitat for butterflies as well as a display of mostly tropical plants. 080618 zoo014The high glass domed green house had misters set in the roof as well as around the walls. It certainly gave the display a real humid tropical feel.

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Donnis Alecia and Andrea.

One of the plants which appealed to me was the giant water lilly, Victoria Amazonica.   https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Victoria_(plant)

These plants are at least a metre in diameter and the spikey side walls remind me of the spikes on pitcher plants.

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Giant Lilly Pads

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Although the butterflies live in a protected environment they still have mishaps and still only have a limited life span. Often their fragile wings are damaged yet they still fly around with grace.080618 zoo015080618 zoo018

The Panda enclosure was large, roofed and noisy with hundreds of kids squealing at the sleeping Pandas. Honestly that is all they did…sleep. Even 4 year old Miles wanted to leave the Panda enclosure because of the noise of other children.

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These giant Panda’s are well known for sleeping. They performed at their chosen activity today.

Late in the day we went into the Gorilla complex although the large male Silverback died two years ago. A young male has now been placed in the enclosure

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Young male Gorilla.

and I was fortunate to see a mother with a baby clutched in her arms as she lay in a den like shelter under a large fallen tree.

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Mumma Gorilla with baby wrapped in her arms.

Nearby was the African Mandrill the largest monkey species and considered Old World Monkeys. Their large sharp teeth look threatening although, apparently showing the teeth is a welcoming gesture. I am not willing to give that theory a try. Mandrills look both threatening and majestic at the same time.

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The Old World Monkey…Mandrill.
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“Just a Taste” sculpture.
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Flamingos flock together and seem to take turns being lookouts, sleeping, eating or drinking.
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The fat and relatively slow moving Komodo Dragon. Like several other species which normally live in a hotter more humid environment, their enclosure is micro environment temperature and humidity controlled.

Saturday 9th June

A final BBQ hosted by Andrea and Brett at their home in, coincidentally, Queensland Street.

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Back Row Joan, Donnis, Miles, Simone, Lazar, Brett Front Row Alecia, Andrea
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Andrea is replaced by Frank and Leo the dog makes an appearance.

Sunday 10th June

We flew from Calgary on a wet and cold, miserable, grey day, to sunny Vancouver. The original plan was Doug and Linda would pick us up from the airport and drive to the marina where we would meet Fred and Peggy and take a cruise up the Fraser River in Fred’s recently re-furbished motor cruiser. Imagine our surprise when we were met by Fred standing inside the airport. It seems Linda had rushed Doug to the hospital with Atrial Fibrillation. Peggy was waiting a few blocks away with the car. Fred and Peggy had driven all the way from White Rock, almost 50 Klms away. An hour later we were further surprised when Doug and Linda walked in the front door. Doug had had his tests, was feeling fine and would have the results in a few days.

Even after only a few hours my sinuses are already responding to the higher humidity, sea level and even some sea spray. My breathing is much better.

So ends our 6th week away from home.


620. Sunday 3rd June 2018. Kicking Horse Mountain…

Sunday 3rd June

Today deserves a post all by itself.

Overnight clouds and rain had rolled in making us re-assess what to do today as we are leaving late in the afternoon.

Once decided, the plan is to catch the Gondola to the top of the 7,700 feet (2350 mtrs) Kicking Horse Mountain.

Travelling up the mountain in the Gondola was quite exciting as the misty, wet clouds drifted in and out across the slopes obscuring and then revealing the sights.

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This photo may look a little black and white but that is how it looked when we were there.The thick cloud would roll in, full of moisture. It did not rain in the usual sense it jut covered you in moisture.

Impressive is the first word which came to mind on this steep shale exposed slope. Somewhere below, 10 year old grizzly bear Boo is patrolling his 20 acre enclosure. We can see the bear den he has created out of sticks and branches.

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Boo the Grizzly lives here. He made this den himself.

At the top of the mountain we step from the gondola and gasp. We gasp in the cold air and gasp for the view. Parts of the view become almost routinely obliterated then peek-a-boo visible as cloud wafts in and out of the crests, crags and vales at the top of the world.

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This photo may look a little black and white but that is how it looked when we were there.The thick cloud would roll in, full of moisture. It did not rain in the usual sense it jut covered you in moisture.
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Ivan wears shorts summer and winter. The rest of us were feeling the cold.

We can no longer see the world below us. Mostly it is underneath the cloud cover. Only the distant snow covered peaks are visible from here.

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Behind us another moisture laden cloud is rolling in to obscure the view and make us wet.

Amid the snow and shale peaks and hollows only two buildings stand out.

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One of two buildings on the craggy mountain peak. Even the red colour seems to fade into black and white. That moisture laden cloud will roll in and obscure the building.
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Went for a walk on the beginning of the hiking and biking trail but it was covered with a wall of snow.

These two buildings are a lonely outpost to only a few staff and especially in winter, hordes of mostly skiers or snowboarders. In summer the hordes are crazy mountain bikers and equally crazy hikers.

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In the distance in tree directions were snow covered peaks and valley’s.

Oh, and of course the people, like us who came here for the dining and vista experience.

Some hikers use a swaying suspension bridge between two peaks.

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Imagine trying to traverse this suspension bridge with the wind blowing and snow falling. It is nt on my bucket list of things to do.

At the moment the most important building is the restaurant, The Eagles Eye.

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At the Eagles Eye. Not crowded. As we discovered this was the last day of trading for a week or so. The restaurant will be closed tomorrow so all the old carpet can be pulled out and replaced. Looking around the only thing which detracted from this wonderful location is the ratty worn caret. They hope to have the works completed in time for the summer season.

The other building which is also important to us is the turn -around for the gondola.030618 gondola

I have seen the horror movie, Frozen, and still have images in my mind which leaves me with the instinct to always look for an escape route.   Thankfully no escape route is required today.   https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Frozen_(2010_American_film)

Lunch at the Eagles Eye Restaurant was quite a fancy affair.  Considering all food and drink plus chef, kitchen staff and wait people all arrive at the summit via the gondola the prices are reasonable. We did notice a narrow track winding its way up the mountain but in places it was covered in snow.

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The tree line ends here.

Any access via this road would only be seasonal.


The best part of lunch was the view – when it was visible of course. I also acknowledge they have a barista who knows how to make a good cup of coffee. All he/she needs to learn now is how to serve it hot.

There are hiking tracks, downhill mountain bike tracks and the remnants of ski trails all around the summit. We can see a suspension type bridge between two peaks. This is a different type of hiking to what I have experienced. At this height any exertion will bring laboured breathing.

It is all breathtakingly beautiful in a stark and cold sort of way.

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Not all jokes gets a laugh.
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We thinks its OK. Cold but OK.
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Hey FrankieG! Is it cold?

The return journey on the gondola gave us a bonus. Boo the grizzly was out and about. We managed one photo through the rain covered perspex window. Boo looks kind of diminutive from up here.

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Way down there is Boo the Grizzly patrolling his domain. He knows where the tourists are and usually comes out each day to look at them looking at him.

The story of Boo is that his mother, near Caribou, Alberta, Canada, was killed while he and his brother survived and were taken to a zoo. They were named Kari and Boo. Kari did not survive for long but Boo, if not thriving was in good health. It was decided to place him in a 20 acre enclosure below the gondola footprint where he has all he needs to survive. Boo likes to play. Have a look at this video   https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=J93-w4ppi48

We had planned to take the chair lift as far as it would go. It has a bear interpretive centre and access to Boo’s enclosure. The last chair was at 3pm as the bear centre closes at 4pm so they can clear the mountain and shut down the lift. It was 3.15pm so we missed out on a close up grizzly encounter.

Back at the chateau we packed our belongings and began the three hour drive back to Calgary.

Thank you to our hosts, Ivan and Maia Velev for their hospitality. We enjoyed ourselves immensely.  I would especially like to thank Ivan for spending a day driving me to places to see and explore. We are also thankful to their son Lazar and wife Simone for their also driving us around to explore the area. We have only scratched the surface of places to see…some in winter, some in summer. We are also grateful to Lazar for his generosity in taking us to the top of the mountain and lunch.

We are now back in Calgary and winding down.

So ends our fifth week away from home.

619. Friday 1st and Saturday 2nd June 2018. A lay day followed by the Natural Bridge, Emerald Lake and the Number 7…

Once again we were busy and lots of photos means a post just for these two days.

Friday 1st June was basically a lay day. Ivan and Maia went shopping in downtown Golden while I rested at home watching movies. Actually I am nursing the head cold. High up in the mountains the air pressure is different than at sea level. It is also much drier than I am used to at home on the Gold Coast. In the same way that visitors from the dry parts of Canada notice the higher humidity on the Gold Coast. In different ways we suffer from nasal retaliation. The last few days I have been surviving on adrenalin and really needed today to recharge the batteries.

In the afternoon I took a walk along Whispering Pines Road to look at the area where we are located.

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This is Ivan and Maia’s chalet on Kicking Horse Mountain. Late in the afternoon Ivan and Maia arrived back with a truckload of flowers in hanging baskets and the chalet is now adorned with blooming colour.

The villa or chalet, I am not sure what we should call our wonderful lodgings and the generosity of our hosts Ivan and Maia Velev.

In my walk I photographed scenery from many viewpoints, mostly as it would be seen from the chalet windows or balcony. One photo which I thought cute at the time would become significant within 24 hours.

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The day after this photo was taken a bear did walk amongst the chalets.
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Cloud shrouded mountains across the valley greeted me in the morning.

Also significant is the photo of Mount 7. It is called Mount 7 due to the thawing snow which leaves a distinctive 7 showing on the face of the mountain for months after the thaw.

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In the distance can be seen Mount 7. Look closely above the roof line and you can see a 7 quite clearly on the mountain.
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No names just a set of majestic mountain peaks seen from the chalet.
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Another view from the chalet.
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Kicking Horse Mountain Ski Resort. Note the traditional (almost) Mongolian Yurt in front. This area is set up in winter as a childrens training area. The children and trainers use the yurt to warm up between sessions. The chalet overlooks the resort.

Donnis, Lazar and Simone arrived in time for us to have dinner at 9pm.

Saturday 2nd June

A long and busy day.

Lazar, Simone, Donnis and I drove almost to the town of Field and turned off to see Natural Bridge.

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Natural Bridge. The raging water from the snowmelt funnels into this small space.

Wow! What a huge powerful volume of water of the Kicking Horse River narrowing to an area only a few metres across then suddenly drops underground through the limestone rock.

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and it comes out here.

The abrasive action of a rushing huge volume of water plus grit and gravel and dissolved limestone wore through a thinner layer of rock, creating the tunnel. Once upon a time in the dim geological past this rock was once a waterfall.

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Everybody likes to get close to danger.
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Struggling get a selfie on the edge of the raging water. One slip and they all disappear.

The surrounding mountains made an impressive backdrop. 020618 natural1Also amazing were the number of tourists here to see all this meltwater rushing to force its way under the rock. A little further downstream the Amiskwi River and Emerald River merge with the Kicking Horse River.

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Lazar and Simone at Natural Bridge.
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Donnis, Lazar and Bodhi cross the bridge over the Natural Bridge.
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Posing at Natural Bridge.

Continuing along the road we arrived at Emerald Lake.

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Emerald Lake

This lake has the reputation of freezing during winter and staying frozen even in the early part of summer. Locals mentioned there was still ice in the middle of the lake last week. Alas all the ice was gone when we arrived. People were paddling in rental canoes…at $70 per hour somebody was making money.

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Canoe rental at Emerald Lake. The water is icy cold as it has been frozen up until last week and it is fed by a glacier.
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$210 per hour in just this one photo. Each canoe costs about $500. By comparison at Kicking Horse Resort you can hire a electric mountain bike, worth about $4,000 each for three hours for only $45.

The ice may have been missing but the amazing circular bowl like Emerald Lake was still impressive. The lake is fed by meltwater from a glacier further up the valley.

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View from Emerald Lake Carpark

Emerald Lake is one of seven glacially fed lakes in the Province of British Columbia.

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Emerald Lake

Emerald Lake itself empties into the short distanced Emerald River which joins the Kicking Horse River a few Klms downriver.

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Emerald Lake

Although the lake was disappointingly unfrozen, the residue of an avalanche which recently cascaded down the hill and covered the walking track beside the lake was a concessional  attraction.

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Remnant of an avalanche which cascaded down the mountain slope a few weeks before we arrived. Contrary to belief it is difficult to walk on the soft snow. Regular joggers just cannot get a grip.
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There was enough snow for a friendly snowball fight.

Just looking at the volume of snow still in place is enough to make you gasp and understand how very few people survive an avalanche.

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On the avalanche overlooking Emerald Lake.

We enjoyed a picnic lunch prepared by Simone and Donnis.

Careful Donnis, Bodhi has his eye on your Budweiser.
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Restaurant at the Emerald Lake Campground.

Next up was the huge monolith known as Mount 7 which looms over the Kicking Horse Valley and the town of Golden.

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There is the peak of Mount 7.

The mountain got its name, according to legend, because the remaining snow always forms into the shape of a 7 when seen from Golden or Kicking Horse Mountain.

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The town of Golden in the valley which has the Kicking Horse River and Columbia River joining to become Columbia River.
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Looking across the valley from Mount 7 to Kicking Horse Mountain. Our chalet is shown under the arrow.

The summit is reached by a narrow, steep and winding gravel road with frightening drops. I kept imagining how far a car could roll before being stopped by the pine tree line. Thank goodness we never had to put that to the test.

Mount 7 is well known world- wide for skiers who want a late season, as late as July, powder snow ski experience.

It is also used as a launching area for those daring young people on their mountain bikes.

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No these guys are not going to launch themselves on bikes off the para gliding ramp. They did however launch off another steep drop off called Dead Dog.

The tracks to the bottom are up to 12 Klms long. A lot of the mountain area and the tracks are of loose shale a treacherous material under tyres.

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The beginning of Dead Dog Trail for Mountain Bikers. The northern end of Golden is below.

Finally the peak is also home to a launch ramp for paragliders and hang gliders. I was getting nervous just standing on the flat part of the launch ramp.

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Simone and Donnis were standing on the edge of the launching ramp with a sheer drop below. Guess which one was a little nervous.

From here we can see the town of Golden, Kicking Horse Ski Resort and the Kicking Horse and Colombia Rivers where they merge.

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Not so nervous now we are no longer on the edge.

The internet calls Mount 7 a place where you can ski, bike and fly all in the one day during summer.

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Atop Mount 7 launching ramp.
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Lazar and Simone at Mount 7.

On our way back down the mountain we talked about how fortunate it was that I saw a big male bear two days ago. We rounded a bend and suddenly beside the road was a mother with 2 cubs.

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Two little black bears. This is all I was able to capture before it was decided mama bear was not happy and it was time to move.

I wanted to take photos but Lazar noticed the female was making signs of aggression and thought discretion was the better part of valour and drove slowly past. The mother was surprisingly small compared to the big fella I saw on Thursday. The excitement levels in the car at sighting a mother with 2 cubs  was quite palpable. Less than a Klm further another bear was on the road and this one had an injured paw so he was already as cranky as a bear with an umm err sore paw. He ran a short distance then turned and made aggression signs. Again Lazar took the cautious option and moved on. Damn! I wanted some photos.

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Always having fun.

We arrived back at the villa and were just changing our shoes when the shout went up. There was a bear a few metres away and Bodhi the Huskie was still outside. We sprang into action. Lazar grabbed the bear spray and ran outside while I grabbed the camera and ran outside. You have to get your priorities right. Lazar wanted to make sure Bodhi was safe and I wanted to take photos. Unfortunately Maia was calling to Bodhi and by the time I got the camera turned on, the bear was making a hasty retreat. Damn missed another bear photo opportunity.

We are not sure but sighting 5 bears in one day must be close to a record. Whatever. In any case I am no longer comfortable about walking in the bush tracks round here. I walked in that section of woods just yesterday afternoon wondering if it was too dense to accommodate a bear. I wonder no longer. Like Lazar and his dad Ivan, who do not leave the chalet without a Bear Banger   https://kodiakcanada.com/collections/launchers-and-bangers/products/tru-flare-pen-launcher-thumb-lever   or a Bear Spray   https://www.pc.gc.ca/en/pn-np/mtn/ours-bears/securite-safety/gaz-spray   I will not go for a walk in the woods without either a banger or spray or Ivan or Lazar.

618. Tuesday 29th, Wednesday 30th and Thursday 31st May 2018. Head cold, Calgary, reflection on train trips and tips, an invitation and a long hike in the Rockies…

This is a big post and includes many photos.

Tuesday 29th May

Today I was left all alone in the house. I have a head cold waging war in my umm err head. Donnis did not want me to go to her mums nursing home and spread germs. Joan went to work and I just stayed inside trying to keep warm and sleeping often. During those coldish waking moments I thought about the train trip with which we commenced our US and Canada journey. The trip began in Seattle, we changed trains in Chicago and again in Buffalo before arriving in Niagara Falls Canada. Originally the trip was scheduled for 4 days and ended being of 5 days duration.

I always had this want or need to go on a long train journey. A train with an overnight sleeper car and a dining car. Previous train trips were on suburban trains to go to work. Once when I was transferred for work I took a trip from Sydney Central Railway to Wyong a journey of only a few hours. Some years ago I went on a train from Taree to Sydney Central Railway. Although the journey was a few hours longer the train had a café bar.  You ordered and paid for a meal from a limited menu and were given a coloured tag. When they called your colour you made your way to the café car to collect your meal which was in a foil container and you are given plastic cutlery. You take that back your seat and eat automatically. By that I mean no relish or enjoyment. You eat automatically. Imagine if you will all the people around you are eating a chicken casserole called on a blue tag. Others like me still have a green or red tag waiting on a call for our colour. It did not seem a civilised way to enjoy a meal.

The Amtrak meals were certainly civilised with table service, several choices plus sides, wine, soup and dessert. The table cloth while not being linen was white paper which was removed after each group f 4 finished eating. Sitting alone was not approved. Proper cutlery and crockery – well, the crockery was the Melamine type.  Oh and plastic glassware and the coffee was served in take-away cups but the cutlery was real. We also noticed people were leaving a gasp shock horror, TIP. We had never planned to tip although Donnis who has been brought up in a tipping culture was afraid we would not get proper service unless we tipped. That seems like blackmail to me. One couple who we had several meals with, discussed tipping. I asked how much tip do you leave? She answered, this is my last $5 so this is all I can tip. Why do you tip?  Because the staff only receive a minimum wage. Oh how much is that? We do not know. Then how do you know they are on minimum wage? Because…well …well because that is what we have been told. What if you are on a minimum wage, do you still tip somebody else on a minimum wage? Ummm don’t know. What about pensioners on a minimum fixed income, do they tip? Don’t know. They did finally comment that on their next meal they had no money left with which to leave a tip and they feel uncomfortable. On average they try to leave 15% of the value of the meal as a tip. In restaurants it is suggested the tip is 20% or 25%. On this train trip the average wait person would serve 10 tables per hour. The average meal would be $100 per table. Do the maths on an average of 10% tip per table, that’s an extra $100 per hour in tips. Tax Free! On top of the minimum wage. The service is no better or worse if you do not tip.

I did some research on minimum wages. US rates are all over the shop with 51 states having different minimum wages but averages out at $7.25 per hour. Almost slave labour with wait staff virtually begging for handouts. No wonder they beg for tips. Employers do not want to change the minimum wage as it is simpler to pay wait staff less and let them survive on tips. It’s less paperwork and less they have to work out meal prices to include a fair and living wage. Americans and Canadians for that matter think food prices are cheap. Mostly they are not. The advertised price might look cheap but once you add on GST – each province has a different rate – from as little as 5% to as much as 25%. Then a tip goes on top of that.

In Canada the average minimum wage is $11.70 and the same tipping game goes on there.

In Australia the average minimum wage is $17.20 with a rare occasional tip.

Recently we had coffee and a doughnut. We had to pay at the counter then wait for our name to be called to collect the coffee and take it back to the table ourselves. We used a debit card to pay. Instantly 25% was added to the cost for a tip. There was no service yet we were still expected to pay a tip.

Luckily the US has $1 bills so if you are the tipping type you can carry a big bag of small denomination money to pay all the little tips. On the train we never saw anybody tip with coins. They always threw notes onto the table.

Canada only has coins for small denominations – just like Australia.

Now back to the train trip. It was fun for the most part and we never got bored. For those contemplating a train journey and if you are a light sleeper or have trouble falling asleep, be aware a train journey may not rock you to sleep. It may rock you awake. If the train picks up speed to maintain a timetable the carriages will begin to sway side to side. There is also a very slight forwards backwards motion none of which seems apparent during the day. Then there is a clickety clack which you do not seem to hear during the day. As well, going through rural areas the driver is required to sound his horn when approaching crossings without warning lights. At night the horn sounds often. Again it is not something you hear during the day. If you get a chance to fall asleep during the day do so

Would we do another long train journey in the US? Probably not! For the most part normal coach seats are quite comfortable and have access to the same dining facilities. On journeys up to 12 hours I would agreeably do another train journey but not overnight. I did not fall asleep easily. I do not fall asleep on long plane flights either. I should also mention that as “room” passengers we were entitled to First Class Services where available. Chicago Union Station has a First Class Passengers Lounge which includes a baggage storage area. They also provide free food and drink which changes throughout the day. They provide lounge chairs, dining tables with chairs and benches for working on computers. Power outlets are beside almost every seat. Local TV and WiFi is included. I have no idea if there was a similar service at Seattle but we did not see such a service.

Finally try to preview the timetable. If you are expecting to travel through an area where you want to see special scenery be aware that some journeys may pass through that area at night. Our train went through the American Rockies which I wanted to see. Our train was 12 hours behind schedule when we passed through. Had we been on time we would not have seen the Rockies in daylight.

Wednesday 30th May

The day started quietly as I struggled with the head cold. Donnis and I planned to go to Costco before she visits her mum.

Then came the phone call from Ivan and Maia. “Do you want to go to Kicking Horse Mountain for a few days?”


“Be ready in an hour.”

I was.

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Late evening as we stopped for a bathroom break at Lake Louse Alberta. This is Mt Temple with cloud peeling off the peak.

Thursday 31st May

Ivan and I left for a hike. First we stopped at a conjunction of two rivers.

Kicking Horse River begins in Alberta and is fed by the snow melt from mountains on the north side of the valley.

The Columbia River begins in British Columbia and is fed by snow melt from mountains on the south side of the valley.

The rivers run westward on either side of the valley until they join at Golden and continue the westerly journey through BC as the Columbia River and enters the ocean in Washington State USA. Further east of the valley near Lake Louise another river begins, the Kootenay. This river heads south into Ohio and Montana USA. (readers may recall I mentioned the Kootenay as we travelled by train through USA) It then heads west then north back into Canada and joins the Columbia.

On our way to the walk I spied a small herd – flock – group – family of Mountain Sheep.

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A family group of Mountain Sheep loosing their winter wool.

They had a couple of young in the group and all are losing their winter wool. I noticed one, a buck who seems to have had his horns shorn or perhaps even broken in a territorial clash.

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There must have been a male soewhere keeping an eye on his flock, making sure I got no closer than the 3 metre limit I imposed on myself.

Today we did a gruelling 9 Klm return hike to Wapta Falls which is on the Kicking Horse River.   http://hikingwithbarry.com/2013/11/28/wapta-falls-yoho-national-park-hiking-bc

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Above Wapta Falls. Look at the massive rock the water pounds against creating a constant spray of mist.

I must be very badly out of condition as the walk drained me, especially as we took no hiking poles or worse, no water.  Later I realised we are high up in the mountains and oxygen levels would be far less than I am used to. Level walking or even walking downhill was no roblem. It was walking uphills when I suddenly found I was gasping for breath.

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Bodhi the Husky stands on a knob of land overlooking Wapta Falls.
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Bodhi was quite comfortable to stand on a precipice above Kicking Horse River.

The falls drop about 15 metres and immediately pound against a large rock in the middle of the river. This creates a huge spray which billows up above the river. The walk was steep and with few places to step unless you have poles or something to lean on or fall against, such as a tree.

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Wapta Falls.

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More Wapta Falls
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Looking through a wall of mist at the mountains looming over Wapta Falls.

Mid- afternoon, after our hike, we drove to the small town of Field which has an inordinate number of guest houses…all with no vacancy signs. Towns such as Lake Louise and Banff have a high No Vacancy rates due to expensive rents for seasonal workers. This little town is only a half hour away from those centres. Field supplies guest house accommodation for those seasonal workers.

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View from Field

We had lunch at Truffle Pigs a fancy old restaurant instead of the planned diner which we found, on arrival to be closed until mid June.    http://www.trufflepigs.com/lodge/

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The Truffle Pig.
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A view from the Truffle Pig at Field. Taken through a window and fly screen.
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This water tower at Field has been looking after the thirst of big train locomotives since 1930.

On the way home I spied a black bear on a hill above the highway.

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I was so excited when I spotted this bear. Look a bear! Where? There! Oh its only a log! No its a bear! at which point Ivan slammed on the brakes and pulled to the side of the road, the big 3.5 Ltr engine Dodge Ram rumbling in protest. I thought this would be the only photo I would get.

We stopped and I jumped out to photograph the bear.

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Then suddenly he stopped and turned still chewing on a flower as he moved away.

He was a little camera shy and annoyed but I had a steep hill and 4 lanes of highway between us.

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Even moving away it was obvious this was a big male bear. Look at the bottom of his foot.

I was sure I could escape into the car before he got down the hill. He trotted behind a log and hid, looking up occasionally to see where I was.

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The bear went behind a fallen tree to hid and to watch me.

When he was browsing on all four legs he did not look so big.

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He changed position while behind the tree still keeping an eye on me and seemingly getting annoyed and wondering what his next move would be. My next move was to put the camera away and climb into the truck. He then stood up on the log and performed an aggression pose to let me know he was not pleased by the intrusion.

Later as he stood and showed his full size I realised he was quite a mature fellow and by the look of his coat and size he is well fed even this early after the thaw.

The rest of the drive back to Kicking Horse was uneventful.

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Along the highway near Golden. These huge chain mesh screens are intended to stop falling rocks from crashing over the road. They work.

617. Monday 28th May 2018. Heritage Park…

Monday 28th May

Today has enough information and photos to deserve its own post.

The head cold which gave notice of arriving two days ago attached itself to me with lots of venom and took over my life. I ignored the early warning signs but it was no use. Donnis and Joan dosed me up with preventatives and symptom easing lotions, potions, vaporub and Panadol.

The day dawned sunny but not warm until about 10am.

Along with Joan, Andrea and her two boys Miles and Evan, we went to Heritage Park Historical Village.

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The log cabin Opera House with an early model still operational truck.

The park is built on part of what is known as the Glenmore Reservoir, water supply for the city of Calgary. The reservoir is built on the Elbow River which drains snow melt from the Rockies some 60 Klms to the west. The park is a 127 acre prime real estate on a peninsular of land. It has 180 different exhibits including an Amusement Park for younger children.

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The BIG ferris wheel. Miles was adamant he wanted to go on the small ferris wheel.
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We called these Swing Outs when we were kids. Notice the Rocky Mountains in the background.
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The attractive young lady in charge of this ride was bored and must have had a heavy night the night before.
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Joan and Miles are enjoying this still functional 100 year old ride.

First up I should mention that the train ride which travels around the peninsular was closed. No reasons were given.

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We really liked the timber work in this carriage. It’s a pity the train was not running.

Next the steam driven paddle wheeler was not operating. For this we were given an explanation. The reservoir dam wall further downriver is being extended so the water level has been lowered to allow work to proceed…for the next three years. Basically the area the paddle wheeler operates is not much more than a few sandy waterholes.

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Normally the water level is as high as the tree line. That is the reason the paddle wheeler was not in operation. Note the Rockies in the background.

Also closed off is an area of wonderful statues of native animals. Although they can be seen through the wire fence it is not suitable for photos . My other disappointment is the three levels of early car exhibits is confined to only two floors and much of those two floors are about early 1900’s cars plus hundreds of old fuel bowsers. There was a third floor with signs encouraging people to go to the top level to see the display. We did. The floor was empty. The rest of what we saw was fascinating  but regrettably we ran out of time.

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The 1931 Cord L29. Amazingly by 1932 it was phased out as consumers could not afford the $3,000 price tag and the newly released Fords were a tenth of the cost.

The theme of the park is the changing Calgary/Prairie life encountered since the day of the Blackfoot Tribes amongst others.

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First Nation Teepee

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Grain Elevator
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Another grain elevator

The theme follows through with life in the early days of colonisation, settlement and urban life up until the early 1950’s.

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This three level house was dismantled and brought to the park and re-assembled on site.
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Inside the house was evidence of the fashion of having animals killed and stuffed for putting on the floor or hanging on the wall.

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Early settlers often referred to as sodbusters made simple dwellings from sod. They were usually dark and smelly but were cheap and relatively easy and quick to make and required few tools or even skills.

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A small but functional sod house.

Lined with canvas painted with whitewash they provided a one room dirt floor basic habitation with room for a bed, a table, chairs, a wood burning stove for meals and were reasonably dry and warm. Root cellars were usually a separate underground bunker style larder held upright with rough sawn timber and without windows all of which was covered with dirt and grass. All the winter staples, such as potatoes, pumpkins, beans, beetroot, apples and whatever grain was available were stored underground where it remained cool all year round. Just to see these dwellings gave an idea of the absolute hardships people endured. Usually the sod huts were considered a temporary dwelling to get the family through a season or two until something more substantial could be built.

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Front Street
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The other side of front street.

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Log cabins and slab huts were also featured. Slab huts were rough sawn timber with any gaps (and there were usually lots of gaps) were filled with a mixture of mud and whitewash.  Often these were used as a barn.

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Notice the moose antlers on top of the gate posts.
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A fine example of a slab barn with a mix of mud and whitewash rammed into the gaps.

Miles enjoyed his time at the Amusement Park going for a ride something which spun a car around while going around. He also enjoyed being on the smallest ferris wheel all by himself.

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We had an old fashioned lunch here served by young ladies in fashionable clothes of the era.
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Another example of trophies from a by-gone era.
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Inside the saloon bar at Wainwrights Hotel. Notice the fashionable pressed steel ceiling which was in vogue 100 years ago.

Looking around the park the staff paid and volunteers were all dressed in period costume from the late 1800’s through to about 1950. Even the staff at the Hotel Wainwright where we had lunch were all dressed in period costume.

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All the workers in every job, ride or service were dressed in some sort of period costume.

Royal Canadian Mounted Police moved around the park giving little talks pointing out sights of interest and generally adding colour and photo opportunities.

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Yep folks. That’s a real live current serving Royal Canadian Mounted Police.

Horse and hay wagon rides were popular today especially as the paddle wheeler and the train were not operating. Most people, like us, had gone to the park expecting a train and boat ride.

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The staff moved around on buggies or in early model utes and trucks.

All the old houses from the turn of the century, that is from 1899 to 1901 were set up with period furniture and staff in period costume were there to explain certain features. One farmhouse had a cake and bread making demonstration using only the equipment available at that time including baking in a wood fired oven. (it shows how old I am, growing up in Balmain we had a wood fired stove which was mainly used in winter as it heated the entire house. The stove was called an Early Kooka. )

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This is similar to the Early Kooka we had at our house when I was a boy.
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Andrea with baby Evan.
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When I showed this photo to Miles I asked who was in the photo he replied. “Me”. When asked who else was in the photo he replied “Nobody”.

616. Sunday 26th May 2018. From Nova Scotia to PEI to Calgary, Alberta. From cold and rain to sunshine and warmth…

A slow week and a chance to just relax. Very few photos but stay tuned for next week.

Monday 21st May

Woke to brilliant sunshine with no fog or mist obscuring our view of Port Hood bay.

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Last night fog shrouded view.
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Our view this morning.

We are heading back to PEI today and we could have tolerated a wet day, instead we get a brilliant sunny day which is what we wanted yesterday.


We drove through three Provinces, Nova Scotia, New Brunswick and PEI.

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Throughout, New Brunswick Nova Scotia and PEI there are many wind farms.

Alecia researched somewhere for lunch and found Murphy’s Fish and Chips at Truro. It was some distance off the motorway but it is rated as the best fish and chips in Truro. It was a strangely located restaurant in what might be called a strip mall. Externally it did not look all that interesting but once inside, the décor made us feel more comfortable. The crowded tables also gave us more confidence. That said the fish is a local Canadian haddock and is quite tasty. Once more we were pleased they serve real fish and not the imported catfish, Basa, from South East Asia. Unlike many Australian fish and chipperies which serve up the yukky un- Australian Basa. Shame shame shame.

The highlight of the trip was from New Brunswick to PEI on the 12.9 Klm long Confederation Bridge.

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Joining the Confederation Bridge on te New Brunswick side.

There is a big hump in the middle to allow cruise and other tall ships to pass underneath. (I would not be surprised if an iceberg or two passed underneath too)

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Ahead is the hump where cruise ships can pass underneath.

Tuesday 22nd May

Today was a lay day for us to recover. Tyler went to work, Vianna went to school and Alecia went shopping for fresh veggies to take on her flights to Calgary when she returns to work tomorrow.

Checking our tickets which incidentally Air Canada have modified twice since we booked in December. We now have a 6 hour layover in Montreal before our connecting flight to Calgary. Grrr!

We called Air Canada and after a 23 minute wait were told there is not an earlier flight. Double Grrr!

We drove Alecia to the airport at 5pm for her several connecting flights to the Alberta oil sands site to begin work tomorrow.

Wednesday 23rd May

Up early. We drove Alecia’s car to the airport at Charlottetown and left it in short term parking for Tyler to collect later in the morning. At the ticket counter we found there is an earlier flight to Montreal. We were booked onto that earlier flight (at no extra cost but we did have to pay an extra $57 for our bags. There is no free baggage allowance) Instead of a 6 hour layover in Montreal and arriving at 9.30pm we now just have time for a quick lunch and arrive in Calgary at 4pm.

At Calgary Donnis neice, Simone was waiting for us but surprise, surprise so were Myah and Ivan were there too (they are Simones in-laws) Unbeknownst to all of us they were on the same flight as us. There were sitting just forward in First Class. They have just returned from a trekking holiday to the mountains of Peru.

We dropped Myah and Ian at their home. They have been travelling for more than 24 hours and are severely jet lagged. From there we went to Simone and Lazars house for dinner. Lazar used the last of his wild caught red salmon. He goes on an annual fishing excursion in the wilds of Princess Charlotte Islands which is north of British Columbia in the permanent ice fields and 365 days snow- capped mountains. He cooked the fish in his smoker/barbecue and we had a delicious smoked salmon dinner sitting outside. It is amazing really. We left the cold east coast of Canada and a few hours later at Calgary the temp is 27° and people are in shorts and Tshirts and can eat outside. We were somewhat overdressed in warm clothes and jackets.

Finally we arrive at Joan’s house, a hot shower and we were ready for bed.
Tomorrow is not planned although we expect family here in Calgary will make some plans for us.

There is talk about going to “the mountains” next week and perhaps joining Myah and Ivan for a few days travelling to Banff and on to Golden and to their resort ski lodge at Kicking Horse Mountain. Lazar commented there was still skiable snow there last week.

On the news tonight was a report that Nova Scotia had snowfall today. That would have been fun if it had occurred while we were there on the weekend.

Thursday 24th May

Another lay day. While Donnis went to visit her mother I stayed around home getting up to date with my notes and photo editing.

In the evening we drove to Ivan and Myah’s house for a barbecue.  Joan, Simone and Lazar rounded out the numbers. They put on quite a huge meal, Bulgarian style, including toasts with grappa. First up there was a cold yoghurt based Tzatziki  soup followed by various salads including a wonderful roasted capsicum in a simple marinade of vinegar and olive oil. The green salad had these wonderful Pickled Peruvian Peppers about the size of a little finger fingernail. Only then did we start eating the steaks which had been resting. Dessert was a tiramisu with fresh berries.

Lots of good food, good conversation and good fun.

Simone gave us the use of her Audi for a few days.

Friday 25th May

Today I tried to get a simple Pre-Paid SIM card from local telcos.

I will never (and I ask others to do the same) never complain about Telstra again. Telstra is easy to deal with, has Australia Wide coverage and phone and data costs are reasonable.

I tried talking with Freedom Mobile. Nope. Do not have a simple plan. Nope your phone is not compatible in our system. Try going to Telus. If your phone is not compatible on their system it will not be compatible anywhere in Canada. I mentioned I was on foot so he directed me to an obscure Telus office where I only had to cross two major roads. Funny thing about footpaths here in Calgary. They simply end in the middle of nowhere then start again 200 metres later.

The Telus office was obscure and the only officer there was curious how I even found the store which is located in a lcomplex mainly used by panel beaters and accident assessors. Geoff, who served me, said he has never had a walk in client in two years. Go figure.

Geoff, the only person in the store listened and retained what I told him. He used his SIM card in my phone and it worked. Next I needed a plan and this where we ran into the first of several hurdles. The plan for $45 included half a Gb of data and unlimited local calls. Hmmm! I will want to use it in British Columbia. It is no longer a local call and it will cost 61 cents per minute extra but data is Canada wide whereas phone is limited to the Province for which it is set up. I could pay an extra $5 per month to modify the extra fee down to 25 cents per minute. Sheesh! No problem said Geoff when you want to make calls from BC, call me and I will change your location. Hmmm!  I am getting a little antsy about now but agree to proceed. Now comes payment. Geoff could not get his computer to accept my Master Card Pre -Paid Traveller Card which I have used everywhere we have gone in Canada including buying meals, groceries, WalMart purchases, airline baggage payments and ATM withdrawals. He rang a colleague who, maybe, should be able to process the card. Nope! Nor could they process my regular Visa credit card. Telus will only accept Canadian or US based Credit Cards. WTF. Hmmm! Geoff found a solution. A 48 hour free call was attached to the phone so I can go to a convenience store and buy credit and then activate my account. But first they need an address. I do not have an address I am travelling and have no idea of my address because it has things like SE and SW and North and 98 street W in the name and I only walked the 2 Klms to get here and memorised the way so I can walk back. Hmmm! So Geoff uses his address. OK so far but wait. I have to pay $20 for the SIM card. OK $65 for the convenience is acceptable. But we are not finished. There is a $1 tax on the card.


I walk the 2.5 Klm to the convenience store only to find the minimum card is not $45 but $50. But wait there is still the tax to be added. The simple $45 pre- paid SIM card has now cost $73.50 and I can only use the phone and text part of the deal while I am in Alberta. If I want to go to BC to use the phone I have to get Geoff to change my location. The service by Geoff was fantastic. He went way beyond my expectations even when I was ready to call it quits early in our conversation. His dogged determination to get me what I wanted or at least most of what I wanted was worth a round of applause. The trouble is with the inflexibilty of the Telus and Canadian mobile phone system.

At least now we have access to Google maps so we can find our way around and people can call us and vice versa…provided it is in Alberta. It seems if somebody from BC or elsewhere calls it will be a long distance call. I am unsure after discussion with Geoff who pays that long distance call. The caller or the called?

Later… I looked it up on the internet. Hmmm! The Canadian system is complicated. It seems both called and caller pay a fee. Seems wrong to me but that’s the way it works in Canada.

Saturday 26th May.

It rained overnight but has since turned sunny. Maybe I can wear shorts again today.

As it turns out …no shorts.

In the morning we took Joan’s “truck” a Toyota Tacoma Ute, to the tyre depot to change to summer tyres. This is interesting. There is a set of tyres for winter conditions, big chunky knobbly tyres to cope with the snow and ice conditions. In the summer those tyres are not needed as they are uncomfortable, noisy and increases fuel consumption. It’s probably what helps to make a mess of local suburban streets. Today the tyres were changed to summer. The winter tyres are wrapped in plastic then stored in the basement near the furnace. Imagine if you will. Every house has a basement with a furnace and stacked nearby are a set of tyres with or without rims. I wonder what people do where there are several cars in the family!

I now understand why the suburban streets are in such a poor state and why there is a build up of fine grit or gravel on the edges of the road. During winter and the heavy snow a salted grit or gravel is laid down by road workers. The cars and trucks with their chunky tyres grind the git and slowly little holes are formed followed by bigger holes. The gritty substance gets pushed by the traffic to the edge of the road. Sometime in the spring…now… the grit is scooped up by front end loaders to be used next year. This further damages the roads.

Donnis and I used our new Telus pre-paid card with data to find our way to Simones house so we can water her garden. On the way back the data disappeared and so did the phone network. Using Joans WiFi I finally got through to an operator who explained my account was set up as a Pay By Use and not the $45 plan Talk Text and Data Plan I asked and paid for. Eventually after being on-line for nearly an hour they called me on the mobile, apologised and gave me an extra 500 Gb of data. I now have a $60 talk text and data plan. Tomorrow will be a test when we go to Andrea’s house for dinner.

Sunday 6th May

A whole day can go by leaving you wondering why it took so long to get things done. It’s the driving back and forwards to relatives living in different parts of the city.

Today was a good workout with our Telus data plan and it passed with flying colours.

After leaving Simones house – where we went to water her veggie patch – we were passed by an ambulance and shortly we were stuck in a gridlock of traffic. We turned around and had coffee nearby. After coffee we discovered the gridlock was even worse. Somewhere along our route had been a major accident. Luckily we were able to plan an alternate route  back to Joan’s house.

Apart from watering Simones plants again we drove to visit Donnis mom in a nursing home then took her to visit niece Andrea and husband Brett and their two boys. After a barbecued dinner we took mom back to the nursing home where Donnis decided to do a load of washing and drying. We finally left there at 8pm.

So ends the fourth week of our journey. It has been a pretty quiet week but things will get busy again in a few days and the camera will get a big workout again. I am looking forward to going into the mountains. There is still some snow and the black bears are moving around looking for food and lady black bears.

615. Sunday 20th May 2018. Rain! Cabot trail to Pleasant Bay and on to Port Hood…

Sunday 20th May

Woke around 6am to a heavy overcast and horror of horrors, it was raining. The rain was heavy at times. Today was planned as a long travelling day so we needed to get on the road early. The original plan was to follow the entire Cabot Trail which would be about 8 hours allowing a limited time for viewing and photo stops. Early, meant we were on our way before 8am. As we joined the Trans Canada highway which is also labelled as the beginning of the Cabot Trail here on CBI, the rain became heavier. So much so that water across the road meant the car was aquaplaning making driving difficult and risky for Tyler. The original plan was to continue on the Cabot Trail in an anti- clockwise direction.  That plan was changed due the conditions so we decided to do a partial Cabot Trail in a clockwise direction as far as Pleasant Bay. This meant a detour and travelling through the small coastal towns of Margaree Harbour and Cheticamp and a host of smaller villages.

First stop was at Cheticamp, a village of mainly French speaking Acadians. A Robins Donuts coffee franchise   http://www.robinsdonuts.com/    was open and a group of loud French speaking men most likely Acadians, were dominating the dining area. Apart from the noise at the table of 10 men, the coffee was terrible. So bad in fact that I have to place it in second place of the worst coffee ever. I forget who holds first place. Along with the noise, Tyler and I were unable to finish our coffee so we were soon on the road. It was that bad. For some reason Robins makes their coffee with an added vanilla and sweetener. Yuk!

Avoid these if you like coffee   http://www.robinsdonuts.com/

We stopped to look at an impressive church called The Eglise Paroissiale Catholique Saint Pierre.    Have a look at this website. http://www.historicplaces.ca/en/rep-reg/place-lieu.aspx?id=8821

The cost to such a small town must have been enormous.

Vianna although only seven attends a French speaking school so she has been able to interpret or teach us the pronunciation of the local French names.

Cheticamp seems to have been known as a fishing village as far back as 1689 and most likely a long time before that as a summer fishing village by the First Nation Tribe the  Mi’ Kmaq.  (pronounce Mik Mak) The name has gone through several variations but the name Cheticamp, penned by a missionary in 1815 seems to be the favoured name ever since.

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Cenotaph and gun emplacement at Cheticamp.

We soon entered Cape Breton Highland National Park and missed out on paying the fee as the summer season is not here and the ticket booth was still closed. The area was declared a National Park in 1936 and yes there are still wild Black Bear, Linx, Puma and Cougar. Stick to the marked trails I always say.  The scenery in this park is breathtaking, spectacular, awesome and at times frightening with steep curving roads often with a low stone wall beside a sheer drop of over 400 metres to the ocean.

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Scree slope and towering granite at Le Butterea. I am told that during winter this is all covered in snow.
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Looking north along the Cabot Trail
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Cabot Trail – Cape Breton Highland National Park. This is the road from Cheticamp to Pleasant Bay.
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The coastline below the cliffs is dotted with calm bays and estuaries.
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Looking north Pleasant Bay is somewhere up there.
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and the rugged cliffs and steep hillsides go on and on.

By now the rain had eased but the wind was getting dangerously strong. At French Mountain there is still snow beside the road and amongst the pine trees.  We stopped at The Bog to explore a boardwalk near French Lake. Halfway through the walk rain came rushing across the moors and we beat a hasty retreat back to the Toyota 4 Runner.  On a clear no wind day I would have loved to have stopped to look at the varieties of orchid and the various pitcher plants which abound here.

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The Bog. Timber boardwalk winding through wetlands.
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The Bog

I found a wallet in the carpark which we handed to the Royal Canadian Mounted Police at Cheticamp on our return.

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Pleasant Bay is down there. Like so many other villages we have seen they are closed for the weekend in fact the entire autumn and winter and spring seasons. I am still trying to understand how the fishermen can make a living in such a short season.

Eventually we arrived in Pleasant Bay and not unexpectedly found most stores and eateries are still closed. There is no phone or internet reception either. Luckily we came prepared with lots of ham sandwiches Alecia made this morning.

The wind at the harbour was so strong it was difficult to stand upright. All the boats are safely berthed in the harbour. Again there was nobody but us at the harbour. Sensible people are at home with a fire keeping them warm and away from the wind and rain.

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Hard stand and lighthouse at Pleasant Bay.
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Pleasant Bay.

On our return through the National Park at French Mountain the cloud descended once more, dropping heaps of rain and reducing visibility, forcing a drop in speed to 30 KPH in places. Strangely the wind was nearly calm.  Once we started to descend once again we dropped below the cloud level and found the road dry but it was still windy.

From here we retraced our steps to Cheticamp and chose an alternate coastal route to our cabin for tonight. The rain followed us to Port Hood and the mist rolled in blotting out our view of the bay, the harbour and even the house and shed in front of us.

Unfortunately our drive around the Cabot Trail was interrupted but we were fortunate to see the most spectacular section. The wind and rain put a dampener on the view but it was special anyway.

It’s a pity really because the scenery and the colours would have been so vivid in the photographs. Instead everything looks almost black and white.

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Such miserable cold wet windy conditions almost seen in black and white.
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Here is how it looks in black and white.

A local supermarket was still open so we could buy supplies for dinner. Tonight was chicken, baby potatoes, a crispy salad along with an entre of mussels in a garlic, butter and cream sauce.

Tomorrow begins our trip back to PEI, this time via the Confederation Bridge. The route will take us back along the coast of Cape Breton, across the Canso Causeway to Nova Scotia through parts of the coast we have not seen.

So ends our third week away from home.

614. Saturday 19th May 2018. From Pictou Nova Scotia to Baddeck Cape Breton Island…


Saturday 19th May

I woke early as is my wont.

Had a quick walk around some of the old parts of town. From what I could see most of Pictou is the old part of town.

Breakfast, if not something special, was quite good. By the time people wade through cereal with fruit, yoghurt with fruit, fruit juice, a savoury scone (which was a bit of a puzzle because it was more like the American/Canadian “biscuit” and had cheese and herbs in it but was also very sweet) before the main plate arrives. Today it was eggs benedict, a toasted half muffin with ham, a poached egg, topped with béarnaise sauce and a side of finely cubed fried potatoes , sort of a loose hash brown. I chose not to get involved in the fruit and cereal and yoghurt. There was too much to eat.

About an hour after we got underway we stopped at a remote location called Cape George which has a nice solid lighthouse sitting 400m above sea level.

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The well maintained gravel road to the Cape George Lighthouse

Although the lighthouse is still automatically operational it has been unmanned since 1978. Ownership of the lighthouse was passed to the local Cape George community who maintain it. I must say it is the best maintained lighthouse we have seen.

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The wonderfully solid clean well maintained and impressive lighthouse at Cape George.
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The sun was shining it was almost warm (out of the breeze) and just a pleasant place to relax.
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Alecia and Vianna at Cape George.

Below the cliffs there was a boat going through the drill of pulling in their lobster “pots”.

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Lobster fishing boat.

Nearby a Police patrol boat seemed to be going through practise loops. Although we were 400 metres above and about the same distance across water we could hear the men talking on the lobster boat. A channel marker was bobbing in the swell and making a slow and languish clang. I could imagine this sound on a dark and misty or foggy night. Dunno why but an image of “JAWS” came into my mind when I heard the clang.190518 channel buouy

Eventually we crossed the Camso Causeway which separates Nova Scotia  from Cape Breton Island. (Actually Nova Scotia is a Province and Cape Breton is part of that Province but for purposes of writing I will refer to them separately).

The rock for the causeway was extracted from Martin Marieta Porcupine Mountain by the quarry company located only 200 metres from the causeway. We could see huge mounds of granite being pushed over the edge and tumbling down the mountain, leaving a plume of dust and grit in its wake.

Once on CBI we stopped at a place called Port Hawksbury for lunch. The second most awarded restaurant in town is the Fleur de Lis and it was located in a dusty strip shopping mall. That said the food was good. It seems the good food places are found in the unlikeliest of addresses. Perhaps it is the cost of rent.

Approaching Baddeck, our accommodation for the night, we were stopped by the Police. They were carrying out a licence, registration and insurance check of all vehicles in and out of town. They pointed out the registration is due at the end of the month and to make sure the car is registered BEFORE the due date.


We proceeded to our cabin for the night.

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This is our cabin beside the water at Baddeck. (actually there is a road between us and the water.)

We were pleasantly surprised to find it within a few metres of the water overlooking the Bay of Baddeck.

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What a great view out the kitchen sink window.
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What a great view out the front doors.

Alexander Graham Bell built a house here in 1885 and spent many years there until 1922. It was a favourite summer escape for the family. Depicted in photos we saw around town are the family enjoying a romp in the water.

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You never know who you are going to bump into on a walk around Baddeck. Here was Alexander Graham Bell and his wife Mabel forever taking the salt laden air at the harbour.

It is approaching summer and the water is still frigid. Too cold for this brown duck to go swimming.

It was while we were unpacking I realised we have left one of our power adapters behind at Pictou.

Grrr! It is not a huge loss but an inconvenience. At least our spare is a double adapter.

The cabin, on the waters edge is called Bute Arran named after a couple of regions in Scotland. Our cabin looks out across the huge multi channelled Bras d’Or Lakes. Although there are multiple lakes which are described as an inland sea, it is connected to the Atlantic Ocean and is tidal.

It did not take long for our sunny almost warm day to dissipate when a cold breeze moved in across the water to remind us we will still need our coats when venturing outside.

It is Saturday of a long weekend and the Esso garage in town closes 1pm and is closed all day Sunday. Luckily just out of town is an Irving Fuel outlet which means we fuelled up and can continue our trip following the Cabot Trail tomorrow. We are unsure where and when fuel might be available on this long weekend especially in view of the number businesses which are still closed for Winter.

This is an attractive community with some interesting buildings and a small but busy marina.

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The original Baddeck Post Office built in 1886.
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Victoria County Courthouse at Baddeck. Built 1889.
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The Baddeck Provincial Building. It has no particular historical inteest other than it is a nice looking building it house various departments of the Nova Scotia Provincial Government such Health Building, Licences and Natural Resources. Perhaps in 100 years it will be given a hands off order and be placed on the National Register of Heritage Buildings.

Wonderful views across the bay can be had from almost anywhere in town.

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Lovely views around the harbour at Baddeck.
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Baddeck Harbour

It’s a pity we have to be on the road tomorrow and will not have time to explore.

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I have always wanted a Ford Mustang. Big motor convertible red leather upholstery and all the trimmings.
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Here it is. A 2018 model. Seen in Baddeck. Even with the top down the leather still smells new. If I had somewhere around CAN $80,000 I could purchase one just like this. Hmmm! In AUS it would cost a bit more than $90000. The dream lives on.

613. Friday 18th May 2018. Sunnyside to Wood Island then by ferry to Pictou and New Glasgow in Nova Scotia…


Friday 18th May

We were on our way almost exactly on time. When you consider 4 adults plus one 7 year old all wanting breakfast and showers and preparing lunch to get away on time is a miracle.180518 wood1180518 wood

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A couple of lighthouses and a mock up village at Wood Island beside the ferry terminal. Both lighthouses are still active. On the day of our visit a couple of Amatuer Ham Operators were setting up antenna to communicate with Darwin Australia.

We drove to Wood Island on the south east corner of PEI to catch the Northumberland Ferries Limited car ferry CONFEDERATION to Nova Scotia.

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The Newfoundland Ferry Lines ferry CONFEDERATION enters the Wood Point area of PEI.
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Cas and trucks begin to leave the ferry which has a capacity to carry 220 vehicles. on two decks. Those cars and trucks are unloaded in less than 15 minutes.

https://www.ferries.ca/ns-pei-ferry/   Of course we are all rugged up the same as if we were on an Alaskan dog sled expedition.

Is it cold?

You betcha.

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Tyler and Alecia at Wood Point waiting for the car ferry to arrive. Their warm clothing shows what sort of day we experienced.

The trip over the Northumberland Strait was straight forward, no rough water and 75 minutes later we were on Nova Scotia which by the way is Latin for New Scotland. That should explain why there are places called Hallifax, New Glasgow, Sunnybrae and a bunch of other Scottish names.

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Our first sight of Nova Scotia at Caribou. The lighthouse on Caribou Point can be seen.

We drove from Caribou Harbour to the town of Pictou where we are spending the night at a bed and breakfast called The Willow House Inn   http://www.willowhouseinn.com/   which is 178 years old.

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Willow House Inn at Pictou Nova Scotia. We spent the night here.

I was told by other guests breakfast is something special so there is no way we are leaving early.180518 pictou4

The name Pictou derives from the language of a First Nations Tribe, the Mi’Kmaq who lived and still live in the area. The name means “explosive place” a reference to the troubled tidal waters against wind found in the area.

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This building was opened as the Pictou Post office in 1895. For some reason it had a window built into the chimney shown on the left side. To this day it is not known why it was built this way but it seems it is the only known example of a chimney with a window, anywhere in the world. The building has been fenced off for several years to allow renovations to take lace. Apart from the fence nothing else has been done. Another interesting feature is the building is made of sandstone. It is different from all other buildings in town. The sandstone was quarried and cut in Scotland and shipped to Pictou.

During the evening I met a couple from England. They wanted to sell their house and buy elsewhere but UK prices are so out of control they could not afford to move anywhere else in the UK. They have sold their house and have 200,000 UK Pounds to spend. They are in Pictou looking at real estate. She is a office specialist and will look for work. He is studying management for two years at the local university. She can work while he is on a student visa. They both plan to apply for citizenship or resident status. In the meantime they are looking at real estate. For between $80,000 to $90,000 they can buy a 3 or 4 bedroom home near the centre of town. They will budget $10,000 for any renovations or improvements and will buy a new car. At current exchange rates they should have near CAN$500,000. They plan to move here permamently. I looked at the 5 houses they have looked at so far and am impressed by what they can buy for CAN$80,000. Of course you would have to put up with lots of cold and snow and businesses which are closed most of the year. I wish them the Best of British Luck.

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The first contingent of Scottish immigrants arrived in Pictou Nova Scotia to take up settlement in 1773. The replica ship HECTOR” is probably in worse condition than the original ship which made the crossing.

It seems the nearby town of New Glasgow is larger and there is more likelihood of finding somewhere for dinner. So we traipsed over to NG and had dinner at The Dock Irish Pub before traipsing back to Pictou.

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THE DOCK Irish Pub in New Glasgow. The original Georgian townhouse was built by Squire James Fraser in 1845 and is one of the oldest commercial structues in Nova Scotia.

The Irish specialty was Bangers and Mash and lots of Irish and local beer.

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We are waiting on our meal at The Dock. Note the original stonework and timber door lintel in the background.
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The Dock doorways, linyels and stonework

New Glasgow does not have the benefit of a nice view across a harbour like Pictou does. However Pictou has a view of a wood pulp mill across the bay. It is not so good to look at.

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What view. Athe bottom of this street is a functioning lighthouse but across the bay is a wood pulp factory.

Walking around NG it was apparent that many of the businesses are struggling financially or have given up entirely. Perhaps the downtown businesses have moved to a nearby shopping centre. NG is also hampered, traffic wise, by a railway line which runs through the centre of town. Every few minutes traffic is backed up at the crossing and then have to navigate very narrow streets which were designed for horse and buggy traffic. It was strange to be having a cold beer at the pub when a train came shunting beside the building.

A walk around Pictou shows much the same redundant business struggle.

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This Georgian Style house was built in 1811 and is listed in the Canadian Register of Historic Places. It was, back in 1850 it became the US Consulate building for Nova Scotia.

Also the number of eateries which are still closed for the season meant we may have struggled finding a place to eat but the  Chinese Restaurant like Chinese Restaurants everywhere were open and doing well. There is a lesson here for the locals and the locals everywhere. The Chinese are willing to work even when the going gets tough.

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More modern buildings one used as a Solicitors Office and another used as a Tattoo parlour.

A thought occurred to me during the walk. Often rural towns in Australia were described as having a pub on every corner. Here in PEI, Nova Scotia and Cape Breton you could say that they have a church on every corner. Of course that also includes a cemetery.

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The Pictou War Cenotaph erected after WWI. It seems to depict a soldier embracing or welcoming a young boy. To one side a woman with flowing robes seems to be trying to place a wreath on the soldiers head. The woman is carrying something in her right arm. Look closely. She resembles the “Blind Justice” sculpture. In fact the object in her right arm is a set of scales.I wonder why Blind Justice is walking beside a soldier while here scales are kept in her arm.
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Now for something completely different. A timber building with what in Canadian houses was once and still is very popular with houses within sight of the sea, a viewing deck.

Our room is on the third floor. Walking up and down creates an appetite and ensures you get enough exercise to sleep well. There are two sets of stairs for each floor and depending on which set you choose you end at the opposite end to your room. That creates a few moments of disorientation.

Tomorrow begins our Cabot Trail adventure on the island of Cape Breton.

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I am unable to gather any historical information about this building. Currently it is a H&R Block Tax Agents office.
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Another old sandstone Georgian style home in Pictou. Note the gabled roof and rooms which seems to be a common feature of this type of building.
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The Scotchmans Inn Pictou was built around 1845 and retains the Georgian style of architecture. The Georgian building next door was built in 1878 for the Pictou Bank. It became the Bank of Nova Scotia sometime in the 1880’s and has been the Bank of Nova Scotia since.

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This building on the Canadian Historic Buildings Register is 188 years old.

612. Wednesday 16th and Thursday 17th May 2018. North coast of PEI and a lay day…


Wednesday 16th May

The sun was up when I woke so decided to step outside to feel the sun on my face. It was a case of one small step for Donnis, one small step for me and one giant leap back into the house. It was still cold despite how it looked through the windows.

Today we started on Highway 2 which basically divides the island into a north half and a south half. We turned off to head through the town of Kensington which is like many other communities, villages and towns on the island. You sort of take a step back in time as far as some of the houses are concerned. Some houses and sheds on the outskirts of town are in various stages of collapse. There is no one reason for the collapse but often it is the foundations and basement being on unsuitable moist ground which eventually sinks as does one side of the house. There can be no arresting this decline . Another reason seems to be early barns and houses used unsuitable timber to span a long roof area. After awhile the soft timber sags from moisture seeping through old cedar roof shingles and the roof slowly caves in. In our drives we have seen many examples of collapsing buildings in every town or village or on the farmhouse properties.

First stop was at Kensington where bakery shops abound.  I mention bakeries because we made the mistake of stopping here to buy some gluten free bake items for Alecia…and me. They do not bake gluten free but a pack of cinnamon scrolls caught Donnis attention as did some coconut chocolate macaroons for Alecia. I was intrigued by their cheese biscuits which is basically an Australia scone only less fluffy and a bit crispier.

The railway ran through here once upon a time but came to a stop in 1969. The station house, the third on this site in the brief 100 year history of rail travel in PEI. The third station house was built from field stone and is quite an impressive building. The station property was purchased privately, the line outside the building was left intact. The railway line into and out of Kensington has been removed as have the sleepers. The remaining gravel has been covered in crusher dust and the entire 470 Km line converted into the Confederation Trail walking track. The station house has been made into a popular pub. I wonder if it is open all year round?

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The old railway station at Kensington has been retained along with the railway line and sleepers. It has been turned into a pub.

After about 20 minutes we found ourselves in the Malpeque area specifically Darnley Basin a fishing harbour which today was almost full of empty lobster boats.

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The fishermen speak an interesting dialect as we found when visiting the harbour. It was too rough to venture out lobster fishing so had an opportunity to speak with them.

We stopped to talk with a couple of local fishermen who told us with the northerly blowing it was too rough and cold to go fishing.

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The boatharbour at Darnley has a collection of these old fishermens sheds. In their own way they are colourful and intriguing

One fisherman pointed he was wearing 5 layers of clothing to keep warm. Listening to the fishermen and their local dialects it was like listening to a North Dakota conversation from the movie Fargo.

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The lighthouse at Darnley

Moving along we drove into New London.

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The lighthouse in New London (actually one of a pair known as front and back ligthouses) This one is set just behind the sandhills in a swampy area with bulrushes growing around.

At this point I should mention the entire island is a convoluted series of bays, headlands and tributaries. Literally there are thousands of twists and turns in the coastline.

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A lobster boat comes home at New London.

It is easy to get lost as many sealed roads turn into dirt roads then bumpy tracks and eventually goat tracks leading nowhere or at least nowhere the car could go. Let me hasten to add we were never lost. Several times we were not lost but we did see some amazing scenery. At the risk of repeating myself many buildings are old and in a state of collapse. Many are old and badly needing maintenance. Many are old and moving past being restored by maintenance. Mixed in amongst these tumble down properties are the marina and harbour buildings mostly still closed and I wondered how they manage to still stay erect. In fact with my marine insurance background I wonder how they get their insurance renewed each year. Or do they?

We descended a hill and crossed a bridge into New London and found a dining place which was open.

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A glass of wine while waiting fo lunch and enjoying the view. It was cold and windy outside.

The SouWest Bar and Grill specialises in seafood and beer.

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This a popular bear on PEI. They also make a beer called Radler which is a light beer of 4% alcohol plus a mix of citrus juices. It sounds pretty gruesome to mix fruit juice and beer but I tasted it…reluctantly. Actually its not bad tasting. I might even look for something similar when we return to Australia.


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We had a delightful lunch at Sou West Bar and Grill at New London.

Mostly they serve mussels done a dozen different ways including by the bucket…with chips of course.

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Waiting for lunch at Sou West.

Donnis and I had the Seafood Chowder which included lobster, mussels, oysters and scallops amongst other things. Alecia opted for a lobster roll which is served in a gluten free bun. The normally wonderful view was still on display but all from inside . It was simply too cold and windy to sit on the deck.

Around here the main fishing is all about lobster and mussels. Some fishermen still catch Bluefin tuna or other pelagic species but marine fishing regulations make it too difficult to comply for all but a few fishermen. We saw quite a few oyster and or mussel farms in the many tight bays.

The more coastline we saw the more lighthouses which caught our attention. I thought maybe there are too many lighthouses to see. Then again, maybe not.

From here we went to the Cavendish Beach area which is inside a Canada Parks area which normally has an entry fee. At the moment the park is technically closed while open season rolls towards us. Today several workmen are building a new fee collection station so we rolled on passed them. The north coast, particularly here at Cavendish is open to the north. Apart from Newfoundland and Labrador to the north the next northerly stop is the Arctic circle. That means all the bitter cold northerly winds have free access to this coastline. This is the first time I have seen surf while on PEI and the first time I have seen sand which is not quite blood red.

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Cavendish Beach

Further along the parkway road the usual red soil comes back and the erosion is plain to see especially in one part of the cliffs where the sea has tunnelled an opening through the headland.

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Showing the erosion at CAvendish which is typical of most of the coastline at PEI.

Our last stop on the north coast drive was North Rustico and the name seems to say it all.

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The harbour at Rustico

Most of the houses and businesses are rustic.

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At Rustico, all the houses we saw were closed or boarded closed waiting for the end of winter. On our visit winter has not left.. Notice the effects of time and climate on the pint on the walls.
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House in early stages of collapse at Rustico.
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Lighthouse and lighthouse style house at the Rustico Harbour.

In fact some have gone beyond rustic. The wharves, jetties and decking are badly in need repairs but I guess nothing will start until the tourist season.

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THe buidings look nice from a distance but up close they show the signs of wear and tear due to the harsh climate plus saltwater tides and prolific marine growth.
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A shop right on the harbour also showing the effects of time, tide and weather conditions.
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There were lots of old caravans near the harbour which are obviously used as a summer accommodation.

It was here we saw the skull of a whale beached here in 1927.

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With a bit of patience you can see this is the skull of a whale. What happened to the rest of the body? Perhaps the harbour or the beach was different in 1927 as I puzzled why it was so high above the water line in the dune area.
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Funny sign especially at the time of our visit. All the shops around the harbour were closed. We were the only people we saw during our visit. Nearby, none of the houses have a fence. When we walked to the beach we could never be sure if we were on a vacant block or in somebody’s yard.

On our way home we were thankfull Alecia was driving as Donnis and I snoozed off and on.

For dinner tonight it was lobster and scallops. I know its tough work but somebody has to do it.

Thursday 17th May

Today is a lay day. That is, we do not have any trips planned and have to do a few domestic chores.

Donnis and Alecia went shopping for groceries and other goodies for our trip to  Refrigerator Freezer umm no, that should read, Nova Scotia tomorrow. They dropped me at WalMart to explore. I have to say thank you to my friend Graham who lent me a warm coat. Since arriving not a day has gone by without me wearing it. Perhaps I should have invested in a coat before I left. I did bring a pair of long johns which I am sure I will need in coming days and weeks.

We stopped at a coffee shop called Samuels for a light lunch. Donnis and I shared a curried sweet potato soup accompanied by a lobster and coleslaw on rye. The additional good news is they serve real espresso coffee. Bliss!

Dinner was the remaining scallops and lobster.