Two nights in Manila

If you can visit another country, you should do it! I had the chance for a very short visit to Manila in the Philippines and it was really interesting. My friend and I visited Guam Island for a week and we transferred planes in Manila so it didn’t cost any more money to stay there for 2 nights.  We stayed at a hostel near the airport and we arrived pretty late in the evening. The next day, we spent the whole day looking around Intramuros, an old Spanish walled city, the museum and main park, as well as Mall of Asia (a lot like West Edmonton Mall)!  We travelled by jeepney, which was very cheap, to get around the city. We saw very poor areas and we also took a train to visit a big mall with very expensive stores. There was a lot of history in the city and there were also many American businesses. I was very surprised to see so many guns because every business and building had guards with guns. For a short trip, I saw a lot!

Time away from work: August 20-28, 2016

I really prefer to choose my own time off, and with no paid vacation, I usually don’t take much time away from work.  However, my workplace decided that there would be 4 weeks/year with no classes, so I guess that I have time off, ready or not!  Most people consider late August to be summer, but in this part of the world, the summer weather ends about 6 weeks after the solstice, just after the August long weekend.  There is usually a lot of nice weather ahead, but the nights and mornings are often quite cool.  This week has been no exception.  The mornings are in the low teens or single digits, Celsius!

My original plan was to visit Prince Albert National Park, in Saskatchewan, to paddle to Grey Owl’s cabin.  However, as the week approached, I had no paddling partner, so I altered my plans to travel around Alberta, to some of the many micro-breweries that have started up over the last few years.  As Friday approached, I had a sinus infection, so I took another couple of days to recuperate.  I visited a couple of local “Irish” pubs at the end of the week: O’Byrne’s on Whyte Avenue and The Druid, on Jasper Avenue.  The Druid was closing on the weekend, and all of their staff had been laid off with only a week’s notice, which is very sad!Sunday, I started off from Edmonton to Red Deer, only 90 minutes south.  I camped at the Lions’ campground on Riverside Drive.  It’s a very nice urban campground, although traffic in the area seems to have a speed problem.

Sunday, I started off from Edmonton to Red Deer, only 90 minutes south.  I camped at the Lions’ campground on Riverside Drive.  It’s a very nice urban campground, although traffic in the area seems to have a speed problem so it was noisy in the evening. I met a running friend at Troubled Monk Brewery, in an industrial area of the city.  What delicious beer they have!  Their seasonal beer was very interesting because it was made with syrup made from a European ground cover plant.  They also had a raspberry syrup.  Their Homesteader Saison is always one of my favourites, and they filled a 1-litre growler with that for me to bring home.  Apparently, I really like Belgian yeast! The weather was pleasant, and I visited a cocktail bar in Red Deer, To The Lost for supper, and to try one of their very interesting cocktails.  They had some really interesting appetizers: devilled eggs and curried chickpeas.  It was hard to choose one cocktail, but I wasn’t disappointed with the Inner Light that I tried.  The bar is right in the historic downtown, so I spent time exploring the city gardens down the street, where all of the Pokemon players were out to play.  What beautiful flowers they have in the garden.

Sunday evening was very pleasant, but sometime during the night, the wind began to howl, and the rain began to pour!  When I woke up, it was too wet and windy to make breakfast at my campsite, and the temperature was only 8 degrees. I picked up some groceries and saw patches of clear sky, so I paid for a second night of camping, and drove to Olds, 1 hour south, for my second brewery visit.  Olds College has been an agricultural college for more than 100 years. 3 years ago, they began to teach the fine art of brewing, which is part of the reason that there are so many fine new breweries opening around Alberta! They had 6 lovely beers on tap, including a couple of wheat beers.  The brewery is counter service only, but again, I chose a 1-litre growler and had them fill it to take along, as well as buying a couple of their beers from the cooler.  There was a lounge in the adjoining hotel where they sold their beer, and I sat and watched the rain pour down, while the wind tossed the tree branches around.  I visited a local Indian restaurant, where $10 bought me a lovely vegetarian feast and I explored the local Pokestops. After a couple of hours, I realized that I would be spending all of my time searching for dry places to spend time indoors and that just wouldn’t be a fun camping vacation.  The forecast showed that the bad weather (80K/hour winds!) would continue for at least 2 more days. Finally, I decided to return to Red Deer to pick up my soggy camping gear and continue back towards home.

It was still fairly early at that point, so I continued north towards Lacombe, with a really beautiful historic downtown.  I spent a couple of hours at an amazing restaurant and watering hole, Cilantro and Chive.  There were very few empty seats on a Monday night! I sat at the penny-decorated bar, watching the bartender make Caesar drinks that were topped with sandwiches and other crazy things.  Their beer selection was fantastic.  I found the Ribstone Creek/Norsemen Brewing collaboration of Rhubarb Saison that was so popular, but sadly, it wasn’t really my style. The burger (bison and blue cheese) was fantastic, though!

Now, it was Monday night, and I was already back at home for the week! However, it was nice having time off in the city to do things that I don’t usually have time for, even some housework! Tuesday night, my biking friends decided that they needed an early-week beer, so it was wonderful to socialize together!  My daughter and I had an amazing meal at The Local Omnivore on Thursday night.  Friday, I returned to Lacombe and met a new running friend to tour the town in style. We started out at Sweet Capone’s, a new Italian bakery that’s only open from 10-2, Tuesday-Thursday. It sounds like they sell out of their cannoli that early every day!  We tried a delicious variety, and she waited in the long lineup for me while I drove down.  After fuelling up, it was time to explore the town’s fantastic trail system.  Most of it was handmade by Bill Nielson, a local running legend (ran 100 marathons) who passed away 2 years ago.  One thing that I never realized was that Lacombe is full of many small lakes, and it was a great pleasure to ride around them on these lovely trails. After exploring the trails in town, we rode south towards Blackfalds, 10 kilometres south of us, on one of the only stretches of Trans Canada Trail that I’ve seen, connecting communities.  This trail was also amazing, and it went past the agricultural research station, farms, lakes, and acreages. A local cycling club was out enjoying the trail.  After 30 kilometres of riding, it was time to visit Blindman Brewing in Lacombe.  They have a lovely patio, and we enjoyed a plate of local cheese, sausage, and mustard while we sampled some really interesting flights of beer.  Our server helped me to remember the difference between a “Saison” (Belgian farmhouse ale, with yeast from the French region of Belgium), and “Session”, a lighter beer that would allow a group of friends to consume several rounds of beer at one session without any serious damage.  They do both extremely well, and I especially enjoy their sour beers.  I was able to try #5, which was only sold for growler fills and consumption at the brewery.  I also brought home their barrel-aged saison, which was magnificent.  I stopped by Cilantro & Chives to try their duck wings.  Although I’m crazy about duck, I thought these wings were a little salty for my liking.  Still, a dish that’s not available elsewhere

On Friday evening, many of the Edmonton cyclists met for a memorial ride to commemorate Isaak Kornelsen, a young Edmonton track star, who was killed by a cement truck driver, while riding to work. I returned to the city too late to ride but met at the small, memorial “parklet” where friends and family met to remember Isaak.  Afterwards, a group of us went for supper and beer at Situation Brewing, around the corner in Old Strathcona.  I tried a delicious pork steak accompanied by succotash, a fantastic bean dish.  It was a pleasant evening to socialize.  the weather was pleasant, and the windows were open in the bar.

On Saturday evening, friends from one of my canoe clubs organized a BBQ at their home in Beaumont, south of Edmonton.  That evening, we were back to the cold and rainy weather, so our group moved indoors to eat and visit.  Sunday was also a cool day, with rain at times.  I had a lot of time to organize my camping gear as well as reading and relaxing.  During free time, I visited the legislature a few times to play Pokemon, and it was really interesting to see how many people were roaming the lower grounds to play.  Some people dress in costumes, many people bring their babies, older kids or dogs and one man was walking his ferret.  When somebody finds an uncommon Pokemon, they yell out what it is, and there could be a hundred people or more who start to run in that direction to “Catch ’em all”.

The week wasn’t really what I had planned, but I think that I really needed some time to just relax and enjoy some different things than usual!

August long weekend @Whitney Lakes Provincial Park

I first visited the Ross Lake campground at Whitney Lakes in 2014, and I was really impressed with the place.  Campsites are extra-big, and quite private. There are several very nice lakes, where swimming is very nice, and it’s close to several hiking trails, including the Iron Horse Trail, and the historic Carlton Trail.  I recommended the trip to my cane club(s) and outdoor club last year and this year, but people seem to have different ideas about how to spend a long weekend.  Luckily, there was one member of my outdoors club who wanted to go camping someplace new.  Depending on how you go, and whether you stop, it takes about 2 1/2-3 hours to drive to Whitney Lakes from Edmonton, on quiet highways. We stopped in both directions at Mundare & Two Hills, and we also paused in Elk Point and Myrnam on our return trip.

I was hoping to paddle for one day on the North Saskatchewan River, but we didn’t have another vehicle to provide shuttle service. Nevertheless, paddling was very pleasant on Ross Lake, as well as Whitney Lake.  I really enjoyed the calls of the loons on Whitney Lakes.  Swimming was also quite lovely on both lakes. On Sunday afternoon, the weather was warm and sunny for 2-3 hours, long enough to nap on the beach, and to enjoy going back and forth between warming up on the beach and cooling off in the lake.  The area is very popular with families.  There were motorboats on the lakes, but they weren’t terribly noisy and busy.

We tried hiking around Whitney Lake, but a portion of the trail was underwater, in both directions. The Iron Horse Trail out of Lindbergh was a nice spot to enjoy all of the birds, berries, and butterflies that were plentiful.

The days were pretty cloudy, with rain threatening much of the time. It rained extremely heavily on Saturday and Sunday nights.  Our neighbours helped us out by setting up tarps over our tents, including one of their own.  They set them up while we were off canoeing, and they drove away from the campground very early Monday, leaving us their tarp and ropes!  Evening campfires were great, and we ate very well.

On the way back to Edmonton, we enjoyed the traditional Ukrainian church in Myrnam.  In Two Hills, we were curious to visit the “Mexican Family Store”. When we went inside, we saw that about half the store sold fabrics and Bibles for Mennonite families in the area, and the other half had a wide range of Mexican food and cleaning products.  It seems that the town is being settled by Mexican Mennonites, who also speak German, and there is a large Mennonite school in the town.  I picked up vanilla, panela (solid cane sugar), and a number of other spices and Mexican foods.  We also noticed that the main restaurant in town advertised Mexican, Ukrainian, and Western cuisine. That was a pretty big surprise, in rural Alberta!  In Mundare, we visited Stawnichy’s Ukrainian (Mundare) Sausage, a famous, long-standing business (0ver 50 years). It was a great place to pick up assorted meats, and some delicious Ukrainian food, including fruit perogies and cabbage rolls.

Gallery

Pow Wow Season 2016

This gallery contains 8 photos.

Every summer, there are colourful, amazing festivals that take place at First Nations all around the province.  Dancers and drummer practice all through the winter season, and family members help to make the dancer’s regalia by hand.  I have posted … Continue reading

The Magnificence of Canada in 13 Stunning Photographs

What a big and beautiful country Canada is! We are so lucky here to have so much wilderness and nature that is available to enjoy. Take a look at these lovely photos that come from each of Canada’s 10 provinces and 3 territories!

With Canada as the topic for #FriFotos on Twitter I thought I’d showcase the magnificence of the country in 13 photos taken in all 10 provinces & 3 territories.

Source: The Magnificence of Canada in 13 Stunning Photographs

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5 Spots in Alberta That Will Blow Your Mind

From lakes to mountains to glaciers, the Canadian Rockies in Alberta, Canada, really do have it all. Check out some of the most beautiful spots in Alberta here!

Source: 5 Spots in Alberta That Will Blow Your Mind

If you only have a short time in Alberta, you could actually see all of these places in one day. However, you should take your time, if at all possible, and enjoy them in stages. The Lake Louise Alpine Club Hostel is an amazing place to stay if you want to visit these gorgeous mountains and lakes. The roads (especially up to Moraine Lake) are not open year-round, so plan your trip for the best views. September and October can be really gorgeous because the Larch/Tamarack trees turn golden yellow at that time of year.

Good & Bad Experiences: vacations and nights out

 

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My necessary travel equipment: passport, ID & money, and a good book

 

Last night:

 

Last night, I went out with my friends. Nine women got together, and we went to Pampa. It’s a Brazilian restaurant that’s downtown. It’s a good restaurant but more expensive. We had meat and wine, and we talked about men, politics and life. We had a fun time there, and then we went to Central Social Hall. It’s a bar, and we drank and danced there. I don’t like drinking alcohol very much, so I drank one Cuba Libre, which is rum with Coca Cola. I don’t like dancing either, so I didn’t go out very late. I got home at midnight. I went home in my friend’s boyfriend’s car. The rest of my friends danced and drank until very late, so they got home about 3 o’clock. It was a good night but not very much fun for me.


When we traveled to Real de Catorce, my first bad experience was when we burst a tire on the way. We had to stop for 3 hours because we hadn’t brought a spare tire, and that was boring. The people in the village were friendly, and they helped us to buy another tire because we didn’t know where to go.

My second bad experience was in the desert. When we were down in the desert, it started raining and we couldn’t ride because the land was converted to quicksand. We got stuck in the mud for 5 hours, and we had to stand around until the rain was over. It was terrible and funny because when we finished, we were very dirty.


I’m writing about a night out with friends. One weekend, three months ago, I went to another city to visit two very good friends.

When I arrived at my friend’s house, I got dressed in her home to go out. After that, we went to pick up my other friend. We went first to a restaurant for dinner and after that, we went to a quiet pub to drink and talk. Once we went into the bar, we met other friends and we decided go to a party in another city 1 hour away from this city. But the four had drunk alcohol, so that wasn’t a great idea. We drove, and then left my car in the parking lot, so we paid for a taxi to travel to the other city. We danced and drank until 7 in the morning. In the disco, I lost my coat, but someone returned it. The moment with my friends was fantastic and it finished when they closed the disco. Then, we returned to my friend’s house and slept here. When I got up, I remembered my car but I didn’t remember where it was parked, so my friend and I searched for it for 2 hours! I was very angry and I felt pretty bad but finally I found my car and laughed about the experience.


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In Edmonton, the Sugar Bowl is a restaurant and bar, and this is my favourite place. I went with a friend two weeks ago. I wanted to have food with meat, but because of my limited English, the waiter didn’t understand me and I got three burgers. I was eating burgers all week and I didn’t want this food any more! But this restaurant is always excellent. I get breakfast there with my husband every weekend, and we always have a good time there. We talk about our families, our country and our experiences and plans in Canada. There, I can see interesting people, and the majority are students at University of Alberta. The ambiance is very nice. When I finish my breakfast, I get a coffee and I go to my apartment walking between the trees, and beside the river.


Hi,

I traveled to the beach in Brazil two years ago with my husband. We drove there by car. It was great because I love to drive for a long time.

When we arrived there, it was a terrible experience for me. The place was beautiful. But everything went wrong that day. The weather was pretty bad; it was raining a lot and cold. We didn’t go to the beach. We stayed in the hotel for one day with nothing to do. The hotel was horrible. The people were unfriendly, they didn’t accept cards, only money, they didn’t have parking for the car, and the room smelled bad. I didn’t like the sheets because they weren’t clean enough for me. I asked my husband to move to another hotel, but they were all full. However, I liked the food. It was terrific.

At night, my husband and I went out to see the city. I loved the city; it was fantastic. There were good restaurants, many stores were open late at night and many people were in the street. It was supposed to be a three-day vacation, but we returned home on the second day.

I went back there again, but that time, the weather was amazing and we stayed at a fantastic hotel.


I went out with some friends, and we went to a pub and restaurant. It was a good one, with a beautiful design. We had typical food, like steak, salad, and fish, and then we had wine and entertainment. It was a very good evening. My friends and I enjoyed live music, we danced, and we talked about our vacations and experiences. We enjoyed our evening and we went home by taxi. We left the pub at 2 am, and we got at home about 2:30 am.

Fantastic. We had a great time: 10/10 points.


Bad experiences.

I went home last September, and I when I came back to Edmonton, my flight was terrible. I had to wait in the airport for 3 hours. The food on the plane was bad because it was cold. The flight attendants were also cold. After I got to Montréal at 11 pm, I missed my other flight, and I waited in airport another 12 hours for the next one. I was very tired because I didn’t sleep. After that, I finally arrived in Edmonton. For me, it was a bad experience.




A bad day in Valencia:

My girlfriend and I went to Valencia in the summer. One day was horrible because that day the people were unfriendly and cold in general and the weather was terrible (Oh my God!): It rained all day! My girlfriend lost her wallet in the restaurant where we went that day and the food was pretty bad (we did not return). At night, we went to a pub with live music and it was fantastic (we liked it). We drank a lot of alcohol, we ate a very big meal and then we went home by car at about 7:00 a.m. It was a day to forget, a bad day.


Hi sweetie,

How are you?   I went to Beijing.   The weather was fantastic. First I drove to Bar Street, a street with about 50 bars. The people were friendly. I was lost, and they directed me. I went to Wangfujing Hotel, where there were lots of people and delicious food. After dinner, I went to a teahouse because it’s a good place to talk.

Holiday: My husband, my son and I came to Beijing. The weather was horrible, we couldn’t get a taxi, I lost my luggage, and I was very anxious. The people were unfriendly. We checked into a hotel, but it was dark. When we came to a restaurant, it was crowded with too many people, and someone stole my wallet. I felt so depressed, and this holiday was very unhappy.


I wanted to tell you about my trip when I went to Germany.

This was a bad experience. Why? Let me explain that. I flew from Belgium to Frankfurt in Germany and on the plane, everyone was talking in German and a little English. I was frustrated, and I didn’t know what to do when I needed something. I didn’t know how to ask questions. You know what? I asked for water to drink and I didn’t specify that I wanted mineral water, either non-sparkling or with gas. So, the hostess gave me gas water, which I didn’t like because I don’t like sparkling water.

When I arrived in Frankfurt, I couldn’t find one of my suitcases. This was another problem, how to ask the question and in what language? The people didn’t respond, and they were unfriendly and very cold.

But just after, I asked another hostess the question: did she work at the airport, and did she speak French? She replied yes, and I was very happy because I was already starting to cry. And she got the information about my luggage. She told me to write everything that I had in my luggage and also the address where I would be. She told me to be quiet, and they would send me home. The good news is that I received my luggage 3 days later.

Thanks


I went out with my friends, Victoria and Elvira, in August. I wore blue trousers, a white blouse, and high heel shoes. My friends also wore nice clothes.

We went to “Hard Rock Café”, which is a bar and restaurant. There is good food and live music. On the weekends, various rock bands perform.

We had different dishes and drank wine and beer. We talked about music, movies and fashion.

We had a wonderful time.

After the restaurant, our husbands came for us. I got home at 1:30 am.


When we lived in Kuala Lumpur, I had bad experiences with taxi drivers. My daughter and I were returning from my friends’ place. We caught a taxi near her home. He said that price would be 15 RM. When we arrived, he said that the price was 50 RM. When I refused to pay, the taxi driver shouted at us. The guard from our condominium helped us. I paid 15 RM and he left. It was terrible and unpleasant.



IMG_2363.JPGWhen I flew to Canada I had a very stressful trip. This was my first flight, I flew alone, and I didn’t know the English language. The entire trip lasted 20 hours. I had two transfers, first in Warsaw in Poland. I had very little time, maybe 50 minutes and I was afraid that I would not make my connecting flight. And my second flight change was in Toronto, Canada. The airport was very large and very strange. I had to find my baggage and my plane to Edmonton. I had three hours until my next plane to Edmonton, but checking to find my baggage and debriefings in Customs and Immigration took me a long time. Everything is very difficult when you don’t speak the English language. My last flight from Toronto to Edmonton was first delayed for 30 minutes and then the storms ended, and we could land in Edmonton. When I landed I was very happy because I was very tired of traveling. For my 2 weeks back in Poland, unfortunately, I have to survive this journey again. I have learned a little English, so it will certainly be easier!

 

The Best of Edmonton

The students in my low intermediate class are studying about shopping, and they have learned a lot about using comparative and superlative adjectives. Here, they share some of the best places that they have found around Edmonton.

I like Edmonton because the society is relaxed. Edmonton is a cultural, governmental and educational centre. It hosts a year-round slate of festivals, reflected in the nickname, Canada’s Festival City. In Canada, it’s the most popular city for festivals.

Fort Edmonton Park is an attraction in Edmonton, which is the largest living history museum in Canada by area.

If you stay in a hotel, the most expensive is The Fairmont Hotel Macdonald, and it has four stars. The price is $228.44 and that doesn’t include taxes and service fees of USD 28.03.

Here in Edmonton, you have to pay more GST (like VAT or HST).

If you want to buy the least expensive fruits and vegetables, No Frills is the least expensive grocery store.

If you want to visit a mall, West Edmonton mall is the biggest in Edmonton. Before, it was the biggest in the world but now it is only the most popular. You can find anything, you like there.

Hello! I’m from Brazil. Now I live in Edmonton, and I have stayed in Edmonton for five months. I haven’t had a long time to make great suggestions, but I’m enjoying my time a lot. Edmonton has a lot of great festivals in the summer. You should go to the Heritage Festival, Taste of Edmonton or Fringe Festival Theater. Most festivals are amazing for families or on your own. Taste of Edmonton and Heritage festival both have food, but Heritage doesn’t have drinks with alcohol. Taste of Edmonton has a specific location for tasting wine and beer. Heritage has a lot of different traditional food and dances from all over the world. This is fantastic because you can learn a little about the culture of other countries. At the Fringe Theater Festival you should watch a presentation of arts on the street, for example, magic, acrobatics, or juggling outside or inside. If you watch theatre inside, you paid too much money. You can see pictures, handicrafts and snacks if you take more time.

I have some other suggestions for the best restaurants, nicest hotels, best department stores, most unusual markets and the most interesting museums. The best restaurant you should try is Rick’s. If you can spend more money, you could try Lux steakhouse. I don’t know a lot of hotels, but you could try Matrix Hotel. This hotel is downtown, and it has breakfast and a nice environment. The best mall you could visit is Southgate because it has a lot of stores, clothes, house, shoes, sports and others things. If you like to walk and have time, you could go to South Edmonton Common. The most unusual market you should go to a farmers’ market on Saturday on 104 Street. The most interesting museum near Edmonton is in Drumheller. You should visit Telus World of Science or Drumheller Museum to see the dinosaurs. In Edmonton, there are a lot of different places for you to visit.

When you arrive in Edmonton you should go to West Edmonton Mall. In West Edmonton Mall, there are a lot of cheap shops and expensive shops, so it depends on what suits you. In West Edmonton Mall, you can buy whatever you like. You can buy all kinds of clothes, electronic products, toys, souvenirs, and food. Also in West Edmonton Mall you can spend your time pleasantly. The most unusual markets are Costco and Sobeys. I always go there. The best Chinese restaurant where I was is, “Double Greeting Wonton House”. This restaurant looks ugly, but there is good food! In my opinion, the nicest hotel in Edmonton is the Hotel Macdonald. I was there for a moment and I saw a cool dog there. In the lobby, there is a model Hotel Macdonald building built with Lego. I was at one festival in St Albert. This festival was about old cars and a lot of people brought their own old cars and drove them around my street. For me, this was amazing because cars in Poland are different than Canadian cars.

Places to visit when you are in Edmonton:

When visiting Edmonton, you shouldn’t miss:

If you visit with children you can’t miss the most interesting park, “Fort Edmonton Park”!

Another park is “William Hawrelak Park”, and this is the most beautiful park in summer and in winter.

The best and the nicest Hotel is “Fairmont Hotel Macdonald” but it is also the most expensive.

The most interesting market is the “Farmers Market” in Old Strathcona. But there are many other interesting markets in the city in the summer.

“The Royal Alberta Museum” is the nicest museum in Edmonton.

But if you want to buy something, you can visit the biggest mall in America: “West Edmonton Mall” and after that, you can eat in the best restaurant in Edmonton: “Sorrentino’s Restaurant” or in the most unusual restaurant, “Louisiana Purchase” where you can eat crocodile.

I hope you enjoy your visit.

August long weekend 2015: Iron Horse Trail: Cold Lake, Franchere-Ardmore (don’t bother!), Edwand-Bellis

 

Trailhead in Bellis, AB includes original train sign

Trailhead in Bellis, AB includes original train sign

Another long weekend means another adventure, and this one was an opportunity to venture to the Northeast end of the Iron Horse Trail.  We camped in Cold Lake Provincial Park, a beautiful park, which is located on a peninsula in Cold Lake, one of the largest lakes in Alberta.  I’m very happy that I booked a “walk-in” tenting site here, since each campsite was completely private and peaceful, with no noises of generators or diesel trucks!  It was slightly inconvenient to carry food supplies and preparation equipment back and forth to the car after each meal, but it was worth it to have such a lovely campsite.  There was rain overnight on 2 or 3 of our nights there, but we didn’t have rain during the day, except for a light sprinkle during Friday supper.

On our first day in Cold Lake, we didn’t actually hike on the Iron Horse Trail.  Instead, we started on the Millenium Trail, a multi-user path that runs from the Cold Lake Marina to what used to be the town of Grand Centre, as well as to Medley, the former town that is located on CFB Cold Lake, the Canadian Air Force base.  The 3 communities, including Cold Lake amalgamated in 1996, to share resources, and became known as Cold Lake (now a city).  The surface on this trail is in good repair, and it’s a pleasant walk through the community.  The walk was only 8.5 kilometres and ended at the trailhead for the Iron Horse Trail in Cold Lake, conveniently located behind Budget Western Motel.  The ladies at the Cold Lake chamber were helpful in finding out what they could about the trail.  Sadly, the Beaver River Trestle Bridge, located on the first leg of the trail out of Cold Lake is “under repair”, and nobody seems to know when, or if, this job will be completed.  Because of that, we avoided the leg between Cold Lake and Ardmore on this trip.

After hiking on Friday, we were able to visit the private gallery of one of my all-time favourite artists, Alex Janvier, located near town, on Cold Lake First Nation. I visited 2 years ago, and I was very happy to be able to return to this beautiful environment.  The gallery was designed by Albertan architect Douglas Cardinal, and the space is bright and open.  Upon arrival, a sign requests that the visitor take no photographs of the artwork.  It was wonderful to just be able to spend some calm time, enjoying the work of both men (the artist and the architect).  I’m always blown away at how amazingly well they are both able to use curved lines in their work, creating a special sense of peace.

After spending our first day exploring Cold Lake, it was time to go farther on the Iron Horse Trail.  On our July long weekend trip, we weren’t able to hike all of the areas near Bonnyville, due to the smoke from forest fires, as well as due to the hot temperatures.  We ate breakfast in Bonnyville at Jennie’s a diner that was styled like something from the 50s or 60s.  Following that, we drove to Franchere, on the edge of Moose Lake Provincial Park, and we hiked the 22K back to Bonnyville.  The girl at the museum wasn’t able to give us very good directions to make the short trip, but fortunately, we pretty much remembered the way there.  It was a warm day, and this stretch of trail included a lot of loose gravel, which was difficult to hike on.  Luckily, the lake was nearby for a lot of the journey, and the scenery was pleasant until we approached Bonnyville proper.  At this point, the area was strictly industrial, and very unattractive.  It was a big disappointment when we returned to the “staging area”, only to realize that it didn’t exist.  The museum blocked off the access to the original train station and parking lot, and it was necessary for us to follow quad tracks through the ditch, in order to return to our vehicle.  When we complained at the museum, the employee said that there had been a staging area at the museum, but they weren’t happy with the mess that off-road drivers had left behind, so they closed the staging area.

On Sunday, we needed to return to Bonnyville, in order to hike to Ardmore, south of Cold Lake. We enjoyed hearty breakfasts and fresh coffee at the very popular A&Ws. This is absolutely the WORST stretch of the trail that we have hiked!  As previously mentioned, there is no proper access to the trail from the museum.  Less than a kilometre later, we could see many tracks that quads had made through freshly-laid sod, in order to access the trail from the town.  This stretch of trail didn’t pretend to be for anything except motorized vehicles: quads, dirt-bikes, and snowmobiles.  There were no signs or services for pedestrians, cyclists, or equestrians (horseback riders).  The trail was nothing but extremely loose sand and gravel, which was basically impossible to walk on.  Although it was a very hot day, I was really glad that I wore long pants, since I had to hike the entire 21K in the longer grass, along the side of the trail.  The trail ran very close to highway 28, so it was usually noisy, with a lot of big vehicles going by.  One good thing is that there was shade for most of the route.  We met a friendly person in Fort Kent who has done the whole trail on a quad.  Finally, we were finished our hike, and I was extremely glad to get off the trail for the day.  In the evening, I made a meal that I had dehydrated.  I rehydrated it with boiling water about an hour before I reheated it, and added a rice packet.  I was quite happy with the results, since I added a really big mixture of dried vegetables.

Finally, it was Monday morning, time to break camp.  We ate a leisurely breakfast at the campsite and packed up.  I was really relieved to find my main set of car keys, after misplacing them on my first day of camping.  It’s really expensive to replace the transponder unit, and I really appreciate that feature when I’m running a lot of errands.  We drove about halfway back to Edmonton, to complete a small stretch that we had previously missed, between Edwand and Bellis.  This stretch was between 8 and 9 kilometres long, and it was also very soft, and somewhat difficult to walk.  Nevertheless, most of this stretch of trail was quite scenic, with many flowers and butterflies, quite a few wetlands as well as sandhills along the way, and a nice variety of trees.  Some of the farms were also very pretty so it was a nice place to finish our 4 days of hiking.  There were attractive outhouses and signs at both ends of the trail.  One small problem is that we are still missing one mile of trail in the area, since we previously finished at Edwand Church, one mile west, and this time we started in the former hamlet.

This was the last Iron Horse hike of summer 2015, but we may venture out again in later October for another day or 2.  With about 60 kilometres of hiking over 4 days, it was a good effort.  Cold Lake was a very nice starting point, and I hope that the trestle bridge will reopen soon so that we can hike that part of the trail. The weather was quite good for all 4 days.  According to maps of the area, there are some more trails that connect Wasketenau with Fort Saskatchewan, so that will be another stretch of trail (not on the Iron Horse) to discover.  In terms of the Iron Horse Trail, the area that we still need to complete is all of the area around Abilene, where the trail forks out in 3 directions, to Mallaig, St. Paul, and Vilna.  It’s good to set a big goal and to keep working towards it, step-by-step.

Make way for the yurts! Comfortable camping has come to Alberta! | Mike’s Bloggity Blog | Canada’s Entertainment Blog | Movies, Television, Music, Radio

Mike Morrison shares his thoughts and photos from a long weekend spent camping in a yurt, in an Alberta campgrounds.  Yurts are very common in the nomadic regions of Mongolia, but they haven’t been so popular here.  These yurts are part of a move by the Alberta and National parks systems to make camping easier for new campers.  The cost might compare to a night in a hotel, but it’s a lot cheaper than going out and buying all of the equipment you need for camping in one trip.

Enjoy the article, but if you’re one of my writing students, I hope that you’ll note some of the errors, such as subject-verb agreement.  For example, “there’s the people…”  Since “people” is plural, the sentence should say, “There are the people…”.  This kind of casual grammar can be common in blogs since they are often written in a conversational style.

Enjoy the beautiful photos, taken at Pigeon Lake!

Make way for the yurts! Comfortable camping has come to Alberta! | Mike’s Bloggity Blog | Canada’s Entertainment Blog | Movies, Television, Music, Radio.

Edmonton’s Best Photo Spots | Edmonton Tourism

Edmonton's Best Photo Spots | Edmonton Tourism

Edmonton has a lot of fun areas to explore, and if you like taking pictures, you can have even more fun!  I often see shots from these locations, as well as from various viewpoints along the River Valley, and in some of the ravines, like Mill Creek and McKinnon.  If you’re new in the city, get out a map and discover someplace new!

Edmonton’s Best Photo Spots | Edmonton Tourism.