Kelowna – Part 2 of 3

Last week Julie and I embarked on a week long holiday to Kelowna for some relaxation, lots of food, wine tours, cider tastings, and to visit my friend Krystylyn. We left on Saturday September 5th and went home on Saturday September 12th. Let’s continue with this series.

Tuesday September 8th 2020

Tuesday was our wine tour day with Uncorked. We were picked up at 9:00am by our lovely driver Herb. Herb has been with the company for 11 years now, and spent the majority of his working life as an RCMP Crime Scene Investigator. He worked on many high profile cases.

First stop on our tour was Summer Hill Pyramid Winery, a classic favourite of Julie and I’s. We ended up purchasing a few bottles of wine here. This is my third time coming here. I even attended a wedding here in 2014. The winery was established in 1986 by the Cipes family, and is the most visited winery in British Columbia. A unique feature of the winery is the pyramid cellar that ages the wine. The pyramid was built in 1997 and is an 8% replica of the Great Pyramid in Egypt. Rumour has it numerous taste comparisons of the same wine, bottled on the same day, and served at the same temperature (some in the pyramid, some outside) resulted in the majority preferring the wine aged in the cellar.

Second stop on our tour was Nagging Doubt, a small artisanal winery owned and operated by Rob Westbury. His small winery was a very pleasant surprise and he had some of the nicest wine I have ever tasted in Kelowna. We ended up purchasing a bottle of their 2015 “The Pull”, and a 2016 “The Leap”, but strong red wines.

Third stop was Priest Creek Family Estate Winery, Kelowna’s newest winery, that just opened up a few weeks ago. It is quite remarkable that they opened during the middle of a pandemic, but they are doing quite well, and sold out of many of their wines already. They used some creative marketing techniques such as social media, flyers, pamphlets, etc. to get their name out there. The vineyard was purchased by Darren and Jane Sawin in 2015. Originally they sold their grapes to BC Fruit, but realized that wasn’t going to pay the bills. With some consultation of some friends they decided to start their own winery on their vineyard and bottle their own grapes. The wines here are super light and delicate, but are delicious.

It was then time for lunch. We ended up stopping at McCulloch Station Pub, where I had a delicious Ruben sandwich, deep fried pickles and beer.

The fourth stop was Vibrant Vines. The winery was established in 2010 by Wyn Lewis. You’re handed a pair of 3D glasses when you start your tour and can enjoy all the beautiful 3D artwork throughout the building, and on the bottles of wine. While we enjoyed the beautiful artwork, we can’t say we enjoyed the wine very much. We ended up skipping wine purchases here.

The fifth stop was Tantalus, which is both a favourite of ours. Tantalus was established in 2004 by Eric Savics. Eric purchased the vineyard from Pioneer Vineyards, who planted the first grapes in 1927 when it was under the reins of local horticulturist JW Hughes. The old vine plantings; 1978 Riesling and 1985 Pinot Noir & Chardonnay’s became the backbone of the vineyard. The other grapes were removed and three new types of grapes were planted in 2005.

After the wine tour Herb allowed up to stop at the liquor store so I could pick up some IPA beers, before dropping us off back at our condo. The rest of the evening was spent playing board games, reading, and down by the dock.

Wednesday September 9th 2020

Wednesday morning we spent relaxing by the beach. I read some of my book called “Don’t Sweat the Small Stuff”, which I loaned from Julie. It’s a really informative book that puts things into perspective.

In the afternoon Julie and I visited Wards Cidery and Vineyard, and Kitsch Wines quickly before meeting up with Krystylyn for dinner. At Wards we ended up purchasing a few bottles and cans of cider from Wards, including my personal favourite which was hibiscus tea infused cider.

Wards Cidery has been around since 1922 and is in it’s 5th generation of family ownership. Within the last 10 years they also started dabbling in wines, but I honestly didn’t like their wines. We ended up purchasing some Hibiscus infused Cider, and two other types of hard cider from them.

Kitsch Wines is owned by founders Ria and Trent Kitsch, who also launched SAXX Underwear in 2006. The couple planted a vineyard in 2010. The family roots actually stems back to 1910, when Kelowna was still in its infancy, four generations ago. We liked some of the wines there and ended up purchasing a 2016 Pinot Noir.

After visiting Wards & Kitsch we met up with Krystylyn at her condo and walked over to this hole in the wall restaurant called Mad Mango for some Malaysian Laksa. This was my first time having Laksa, as well as Julie, and we both agreed that it was fantastic. We will definitely be trying to make Laksa in the coming weeks, as we are big foodies.

After having dinner we walked back to Krystylyn’s condo and said bye for the evening. We will meet her again, one more time on the last day before we head home.

We quickly stopped by Red Bird Brewery for a six-pack of IPA for myself and then head back to the condo. In the evening we hung out by the dock and played some more Catan. Honestly Julie has been kicking my butt this week at Catan, and I can’t catch a break. While at the dock we meet another wonderful couple named Evan and Kayla and ended up chatting for about and hour.

Be sure to check back soon for part 3 of 3 in my Kelowna series.

If you like the content that I produce and want to donate money towards the upkeep of my site, my travel, or buy me a cup of coffee please feel free to contribute towards it. I really appreciate it.

Donate By Clicking Here

 

Jasper & Wells Gray Provincial Park

Last weekend Julie and I took a long 1900km roundtrip road trip to Jasper and Wells gray Provincial Park. We used my new trusty steed; 2018 Toyota Prius PRIME. Total fuel cost on the trip was $60 because I was able to take advantage of multiple free charges during our trip, including at our hotels, and BC Info Centre’s.

We left Calgary on Friday July 31st 2020 at 4pm, picked up some Subway sandwiches and headed straight towards Jasper. The drive took just over 5 hours and we ended up staying at the Tonquin Inn for $200 for the night, which is quite acceptable for being a hot spot. The place was well equipped with a queen bed, separate living room, kitchen, and bathrooms.

2020-08-01 Jasper & Wells Gray Provincial Park 012020-08-01 Jasper & Wells Gray Provincial Park 022020-08-01 Jasper & Wells Gray Provincial Park 032020-08-01 Jasper & Wells Gray Provincial Park 04

The next morning we got breakfast at Coco’s Cafe. We both had coffee and a Montreal style bagel (Julie had gluten free) with Salmon and cream cheese. After we ate our food we drove to Overlander Falls, about an hour away.

IMG_9537

Overlander Falls was a quick 30 minute return walk to the beautiful high-volume, but low height waterfalls. We were the only people there so I was able to take the time to capture some video and long exposure photographs.

IMG_95402020-08-01 Jasper & Wells Gray Provincial Park 092020-08-01 Jasper & Wells Gray Provincial Park 10

After visiting Overlander Falls we stopped in at the Mt. Robson Information Centre, which was only a 5 minute drive away. There we received some information booklets on Wells Gray Provincial Park, and the Berg Lake hike, which I plan on doing sometime this year. While we were there I took advantage of the free Level 2 EV charging there and was able to charge my PRIME about 50%.

2020-08-01 Jasper & Wells Gray Provincial Park 112020-08-01 Jasper & Wells Gray Provincial Park 132020-08-01 Jasper & Wells Gray Provincial Park 14IMG_9694IMG_9695

Continuing along we drove to Clearwater, BC, with a brief stop in Blue River for $15 worth of fuel, as it was a good price. We stopped at Clearwater to quickly take a look at which hikes we should visit on the first day. First stop was Spahats Falls. The walk / “hike” to Spahats Falls is an easy 3.1 km with 91 metres of elevation difference. The views are stunning! This is where I realized Julie was a bit afraid of heights, but she did really well all things considered.

2020-08-01 Jasper & Wells Gray Provincial Park 152020-08-01 Jasper & Wells Gray Provincial Park 16

Second stop was Dawson Falls. The walk / “hike” to Dawson Falls is an easy 1.4 km with 38 metres of elevation difference. The falls are very wide, but only about 15 metres tall.

IMG_9685IMG_96892020-08-01 Jasper & Wells Gray Provincial Park 172020-08-01 Jasper & Wells Gray Provincial Park 18

Third stop was Helmcken Falls. The walk / “hike” to Helmcken Falls in an easy 1.0 km hike with 60 metres of elevation difference. The falls are a stunning 141 metres tall and are the fourth highest waterfall in Canada. While we were there we saw a cute young couple getting married, which we saw later on in the evening when we were eating, but more on that later.

2020-08-01 Jasper & Wells Gray Provincial Park 192020-08-01 Jasper & Wells Gray Provincial Park 202020-08-01 Jasper & Wells Gray Provincial Park 212020-08-01 Jasper & Wells Gray Provincial Park 22IMG_9692

Fourth stop was Osprey Falls, about a 30 minute drive away, but it was very underwhelming so we didn’t take any photos. It was 6pm so we decided to head back to our accommodation for the night; a cute bungalow at the Wells Gray KOA Journey Campground.

2020-08-01 Jasper & Wells Gray Provincial Park 232020-08-01 Jasper & Wells Gray Provincial Park 24

After checking in and plugging in my car to recharge we walked over to a wonderful restaurant called Hop N Hog, where I had some delicious brisket and Julie had some delicious Pulled Pork. While we were there we learned of some nasty false reviews from a woman on Google and Travelocity against the owner. I suspect it was a date that went bad. This saddens me because these small “ma and pa” style restaurants rely on reviews from people like you and I. I left a super positive review because I thought the food and service was incredible.

IMG_9585IMG_9588IMG_9592

The next day Julie and I woke up around 7am, got ready and headed to the Painted Turtle Restaurant, which was just a few kilometres away. There I had an Eggs Benedict and Julie had a traditional breakfast, minus eggs, since she’s allergic to eggs. The restaurant overlooked a gorgeous lake which had a variety of turtles. The restaurant was on the same property as a campground, but the lack of trees at the campground would make me reluctant to stay there.

IMG_9603IMG_96052020-08-01 Jasper & Wells Gray Provincial Park 252020-08-01 Jasper & Wells Gray Provincial Park 262020-08-01 Jasper & Wells Gray Provincial Park 272020-08-01 Jasper & Wells Gray Provincial Park 28

After breakfast we drove to our first hike of the day; Moul Falls. Moul Falls is a 5.5 km return hike with 200 metres of elevation differential. At the end of the hike you decent via a steep trail / staircase to the bottom of the waterfall, where you can walk behind the waterfall. I decided the venture behind the waterfall, but Julie stayed behind because of a previous knee injury.

2020-08-01 Jasper & Wells Gray Provincial Park 292020-08-01 Jasper & Wells Gray Provincial Park 312020-08-01 Jasper & Wells Gray Provincial Park 32IMG_9700

After hiking Moul Falls we drove to Triple Decker Falls. The hike is only 0.8 km, and 52 metres of elevation differential, but don’t let that fool you, because it’s difficult. When you start the hike you’re presented with some donated hiking poles from “Y2C”; Youth to Christ, that you can borrow. Julie and I both took two as she has her prior knee injury, and I didn’t want to fall. Halfway through the hike I told Julie to stay behind, and I went to the bottom to complete the hike. The waterfall is beautiful, but I’m glad that Julie stayed behind as the last 1/4 of the hike was very technical and would have probably resulted in further injury to her knee.

IMG_9650IMG_96472020-08-01 Jasper & Wells Gray Provincial Park 33

After completing the two hikes we drove back to Jasper and checked into our accommodation for the night; the Jasper Inn. Our room had a queen sized bed, a nice bathroom, a kitchen, and separate living room. After checking in we decided to walk to Jasper Pizza Place for dinner. Sadly they were out of gluten free crust so Julie had gluten free pasta, while I enjoyed a delicious glutenous pizza.

IMG_9655IMG_9656

After dinner we returned to our hotel where we watched a movie called Extraction. After watching Extraction we went to bed.

2020-08-01 Jasper & Wells Gray Provincial Park 342020-08-01 Jasper & Wells Gray Provincial Park 352020-08-01 Jasper & Wells Gray Provincial Park 36

The next morning we woke up around 8am and drove to the Jasper Fairmont where we had breakfast. I had Eggs Benedict, and Julie had the traditional breakfast, minus eggs, due to her allergies.

IMG_9661IMG_9663IMG_9664IMG_9665

After breakfast we started the drive back to Calgary with a couple of stops; Athabasca Falls, Sunwapta Falls, and Athabasca Glacier.

2020-08-01 Jasper & Wells Gray Provincial Park 372020-08-01 Jasper & Wells Gray Provincial Park 382020-08-01 Jasper & Wells Gray Provincial Park 392020-08-01 Jasper & Wells Gray Provincial Park 422020-08-01 Jasper & Wells Gray Provincial Park 432020-08-01 Jasper & Wells Gray Provincial Park 442020-08-01 Jasper & Wells Gray Provincial Park 452020-08-01 Jasper & Wells Gray Provincial Park 462020-08-01 Jasper & Wells Gray Provincial Park 47

If you like the content that I produce and want to donate money towards the upkeep of my site, my travel, or buy me a cup of coffee please feel free to contribute towards it. I really appreciate it.

Donate By Clicking Here

Hamilton Lake Hike

On July 17th 2020 Dad and I drove to Emerald Lake to do some hiking. Dad decided to hike around Emerald Lake, and I completed the 9.3 km (return) hike to Hamilton Lake in the beautiful Yoho National Park. The hike has 864 metres of elevation gain, so it’s quite the grind up to the top.  The hike took me just under 3 hours to complete, but the sticker time on the hike is closer to 5 hours. I would budget 4.5-5.5 hours.

When we arrived at Emerald Lake it was just after 10am and the water was completely still. I’ve never seen it in this mirror-finish before and was quite in awe.

2020-07-17 Hamilton Lake Hike 02

After taking in the beauty of the lake I started the grind up towards Hamilton Lake. There was a few scenic portions towards the top, including a waterfall, but the majority of the hike was in the woods.

2020-07-17 Hamilton Lake Hike 032020-07-17 Hamilton Lake Hike 042020-07-17 Hamilton Lake Hike 052020-07-17 Hamilton Lake Hike 06

At the top you’re presented with a gorgeous view of the pristine glacier fed lake. It had only thawed a few days prior and was extremely cold to the touch. Throughout the hike I hadn’t run into a single person on this entire hike, which allowed me to enjoy the trail all by myself.

2020-07-17 Hamilton Lake Hike 082020-07-17 Hamilton Lake Hike 092020-07-17 Hamilton Lake Hike 10

Dad and I met in Emerald Lodge for a beer afterwards. our timing was near perfect; within 7 minutes. We both enjoyed an IPA beer in the lodge, which was quite empty due to the lack of tourism in the area because of COVID-19.

If you like the content that I produce and want to donate money towards the upkeep of my site, my travel, or buy me a cup of coffee please feel free to contribute towards it. I really appreciate it.

Donate By Clicking Here

USA – Nevada, Arizona, New Mexico, and Utah – Part 2 of 2

In September 2017 my Dad and I went on a one week trip to the USA to explore the beautiful scenery that Nevada, Arizona, New Mexico, and Utah have to offer. I started my blog series in 2016 but due to 2017 being such a busy year for travel I actually forgot to write about this.

2017 USA Road Trip

In Part 1 of 2 we left off with staying the night on Day 3 in Albuquerque after visiting the Puye Cliff Dwellings. This is Part 2 of 2 of this series. Enjoy!

On the 4th day we continued driving north towards the Rio Grande Gorge Bridge with a stop at the Classical Gas Museum in Embudo, New Mexico. The museum is the work of a man named Johnnie Meier, a gentleman who after retiring from the nearby Los Alamos National Laboratory started to collect car memorabilia. His collection is the efforts of over 25 years of hard work.

2017-09-01 USA 1612017-09-01 USA 1622017-09-01 USA 1632017-09-01 USA 1642017-09-01 USA 1652017-09-01 USA 1672017-09-01 USA 1682017-09-01 USA 1722017-09-01 USA 1732017-09-01 USA 1742017-09-01 USA 176

After stopping at the Classical Gas Museum we continued north to the Rio Grande Gorge Bridge. The 390 metre (1280 foot) long steel deck arch bridge was designed by architect Charles Reed, and was built in 1965. It is the 10th highest bridge in the USA, sitting roughly 180 metres (600 feet) above the Rio Grande River. The bride won the award of being the “Most Beautiful Steel Bridge” in the “Long Span” category in 1966 by the American Institute of Steel Construction. In 1997 it was added to the 1997 National Register of Historic Place (NRHP). It received a relatively in-expensive $2.4 million repair and facelift in 2012, which included structural steelwork, a new concrete deck surface, new sidewalks, ramps, curbs and gutters. When we were there we also met a couple who were riding around on a completely custom V8 trike that they had built.

2017-09-01 USA 1782017-09-01 USA 1792017-09-01 USA 1802017-09-01 USA 181

After visiting the Rio Grande Gorge Bridge we continued along our journey to our next stop just a few minutes away called Earthship Biotecture. Michael Reynolds is the founder and creator of the concept. He came to Taos after graduation architectural school in 1969. He was inspired by the problem of trash, pollution and the lack of affordable housing so he sought out a solution to create affordable housing that was sustainable. These homes are called Earthships. His home designs can be seen all over North America, including close to home here in my province of Alberta. Dad and I purchased a few books and I ended up reading them along the road trip. They were extremely informative and you can easily create an Earthship, even for use in a colder climate such as Alberta, with a lot of elbow grease.

2017-09-01 USA 1842017-09-01 USA 1852017-09-01 USA 1862017-09-01 USA 1882017-09-01 USA 189

After visiting Earthship Biotecture it was time to find some accommodation. We ended up heading back to Flagstaff, Arizona for the night. Accommodation was at the Couryard by Marriott for $120 CDN. We went back to Flagstaff Brewing Company for dinner and more beers.

The next day we woke up early and we drove to Shiprock, New Mexico before heading to the Four Corners Mounment. Shiprock, also known by the Navajo as “the rick with wings” is a monadnock rising 483 metres (1583 feet) above the desert. It’s peak is 2188 metres (7177 feet) above sea level.

2017-09-01 USA 1122017-09-01 USA 113

The Four Corners Monument marks the quadripoint in the US where the states of Arizona, Colorado, New Mexico and Utah meet. Is the only point in the United States where four states perfectly meet. The monument  is made of granite and brass and I got a picture of myself in all four states.

2017-09-01 USA iPhone 0812017-09-01 USA iPhone 080

Next stop was Natural Bridges National Monument where Dad and I did some hiking. We first hiked Sipapu Bridge, which is a 2 km hike with 133 metres (436 feet) of elevation differential. Across from the bridge you can actually see the ancient structures of Horse Collar Ruin that were believed to have been built over 700 years ago!

2017-09-01 USA 1912017-09-01 USA 1932017-09-01 USA 1942017-09-01 USA 1952017-09-01 USA 199

The next hike in Natural Bridges National Monument was Kachina Bridge, a 2.25 km hike with 140 metres (462 feet) of elevation differential. There is a lot of switchbacks and wooden stairs to get to the bottom of the valley, but the view was totally worth it!

2017-09-01 USA 2012017-09-01 USA 202

The final stop in Natural Bridges National Monument was Owachomo Bridge, also known as the “Little Bridge” It’s extremely slender in the middle and is also the oldest bridge in the park. The hike is only 1 km and has 60 metres (190 feet) of elevation differential. This was my favourite bridge in the park!

2017-09-01 USA 2062017-09-01 USA 207

It was time to find somewhere to stay for the night. We ended up staying at the Super 8 in Moab for $80 CDN. We had dinner at The Blu Pig, a blue’s themed bar with delicious smoked meat. I felt my arteries clogging as I ate my food and we drank our beer.

2017-09-01 USA iPhone 2302017-09-01 USA iPhone 2312017-09-01 USA iPhone 232

The next morning we had breakfast at the Moab Diner, before driving into Canyonlands to see the Indian Hieroglyph’s and the unique rock features in the park.

2017-09-01 USA iPhone 2332017-09-01 USA iPhone 2342017-09-01 USA 2122017-09-01 USA 2142017-09-01 USA 215

The next stop, which was my favorite park of the entire trip was Arches National Park.  When you enter into the park you see the beautiful “Courthouse Towers”!

2017-09-01 USA iPhone 2142017-09-01 USA iPhone 216

Our two stops were the magnificent “North Window” and equally stunning “Double Arch”.

2017-09-01 USA iPhone 2202017-09-01 USA iPhone 225

Next up was Panorama Point and “Delicate Arch”. Delicate Arch required 5 km of hiking with 190 metres (620 feet) of elevation differential, but it was worth it!

2017-09-01 USA iPhone 2282017-09-01 USA iPhone 2292017-09-01 USA iPhone 2362017-09-01 USA Peter 362017-09-01 USA Peter 37

The final stop for the day was Goblin Valley State Park. “The Three Sisters” great you as you enter the park.

2017-09-01 USA iPhone 238

We decided to do “The Goblin’s Lair” hike while we were in the park. The hike is 4 km long and has about 50 metres (165 feet) of elevation differential. At the end of the hike there is a cave area you can climb into, which I decided to do, but my dad stayed back in case I got injured as it was fairly difficult climbing down into the cave.

2017-09-01 USA iPhone 2522017-09-01 USA iPhone 2392017-09-01 USA iPhone 2402017-09-01 USA iPhone 2422017-09-01 USA iPhone 2472017-09-01 USA Peter 382017-09-01 USA Peter 392017-09-01 USA iPhone 251

It was time to check into our hotel for the night. We stayed at The Snuggle Inn in Loa, Utah for $120 CDN. We had the entire hotel to ourselves. Dinner was at the wonderful restaurant that I don’t remember the name of, but a quick look on google maps shows that it no longer exists.

2017-09-01 USA iPhone 2532017-09-01 USA iPhone 256

The next morning we had breakfast at The Country Café. the owner was very nice and it was funny because he was mad that his son was late showing up to work and when his son did show up to work he just took money from the till and left. The food was pretty good though!

2017-09-01 USA iPhone 257

Today we drove towards Las Vegas with a few stops along the way including Zion National Park. It was absolutely pouring rain in Zion National Park so we just got out of the car to take a few photos, before continuing on to Las Vegas.

2017-09-01 USA 3242017-09-01 USA 3262017-09-01 USA iPhone 258

2017-09-01 USA 329_luminar2017-09-01 USA 3322017-09-01 USA 3342017-09-01 USA 337

After arriving in Las Vegas Dad and I checked into the Luxor Hotel for the next 2 nights. Rooms were only $40 CDN per night so we both got our own room. He was starting to not feel too well so he ended up having a nap and I explored the hotel and the Las Vegas streets.

2017-09-01 USA iPhone 2672017-09-01 USA iPhone 2682017-09-01 USA iPhone 2692017-09-01 USA 3442017-09-01 USA 3462017-09-01 USA 3472017-09-01 USA 3572017-09-01 USA 3662017-09-01 USA 3682017-09-01 USA 3692017-09-01 USA 3772017-09-01 USA 3782017-09-01 USA 379

The next day Dad and I went for breakfast at a restaurant outside of Planet Hollywood, but that restaurant no longer exists, and I can’t find the name of it online.

2017-09-01 USA 3802017-09-01 USA 383

After breakfast we visited The Auto Collections car museum at the LINQ Hotel, formerly the Imperial Palace. Sadly, the museum shut down at the end of 2017. I’m very fortunate to have seen this museum 3 times since 2013.2017-09-01 USA 3882017-09-01 USA 3892017-09-01 USA 3922017-09-01 USA 3942017-09-01 USA 3972017-09-01 USA 4002017-09-01 USA 4102017-09-01 USA 4112017-09-01 USA 4122017-09-01 USA 418

We spent the afternoon relaxing at the hotel, and even did some gambling, making a 50% profit on the $20 we initially invested. Dad still wasn’t feeling well so I decided to go to the Neon Museum by myself in the evening. The Neon Museum features signs from old casinos and other businesses from the Las Vegas area. The main feature is the fully restored lobby shell from the defunct La Concha Motel as it’s main visitor center. The Neon Museum opened on October 27th 2012.

2017-09-01 USA 4232017-09-01 USA 4242017-09-01 USA 4252017-09-01 USA 4262017-09-01 USA 4312017-09-01 USA 4332017-09-01 USA 4342017-09-01 USA 4352017-09-01 USA 4362017-09-01 USA 4382017-09-01 USA 4392017-09-01 USA 4402017-09-01 USA 4412017-09-01 USA 4432017-09-01 USA 4442017-09-01 USA 445

One the final day of our trip we went to the Carroll Shelby Museum before doing some plane spotting, and then catching our flight home. The Carroll Shelby Museum, which functions three-fold as the Headquarters, a Museum, and the actual production facility.

2017-09-01 USA 4512017-09-01 USA 4522017-09-01 USA 4532017-09-01 USA 4572017-09-01 USA 4582017-09-01 USA 459

An all-time past of mine is plane spotting. I have an absolute love of aviation, and my father has always taken me plane spotting since I was a very small child. Las Vegas has some prime plane spotting areas, which my Dad had researched, so we sat and watching planes for a bit, before it was time to catch our flight home.

2017-09-01 USA 4602017-09-01 USA 4612017-09-01 USA 4622017-09-01 USA 4642017-09-01 USA 4662017-09-01 USA 4672017-09-01 USA 4702017-09-01 USA 4722017-09-01 USA 473

Be sure to check back soon when I depart on my Eastern Europe road trip in about a month!

If you like the content that I produce and want to donate money towards the upkeep of my site, my travel, or buy me a cup of coffee please feel free to contribute towards it. I really appreciate it.

Donate By Clicking Here

USA – Nevada, Arizona, New Mexico, and Utah – Part 1 of 2

In September 2017 my Dad and I went on a one week trip to the USA to explore the beautiful scenery that Nevada, Arizona, New Mexico, and Utah have to offer. I started my blog series in 2016 but due to 2017 being such a busy year for travel I actually forgot to write about this.

2017 USA Road Trip

Our trip started and ended in Las Vegas, Nevada. The reason for us starting the trip here was the frequency of flights offered from our home city of Calgary, Alberta, Canada. Non-stop flights can be had on Air Canada Rouge, WestJet for around $300-500 return if booked 45-90 days in advance. The savings can add up even more if you book a hotel and flight package.

We arrived on an evening flight and stayed at the Desert Rose Resort, which went for roughly $130 CDN a night back in 2017, but with a recent renovation has gone up to roughly $300 CDN a night. I can almost guarantee that you’ll get better value staying elsewhere now.

The next day we drove to Page, Arizona where we stayed the night. We had a few stops along the way at some nice slot canyons, but nothing as amazing as what we were going to visit the next day.

2017-09-01 USA 0092017-09-01 USA 0102017-09-01 USA 0152017-09-01 USA 0162017-09-01 USA 0212017-09-01 USA 023

Accommodation in Page was at the Motel 6 for roughly $60 CDN. For dinner we ate at State 48 Tavern, which I highly recommend. We both had burgers and beer.

2017-09-01 USA iPhone 0342017-09-01 USA iPhone 035

On Day 2 we woke up early and drove into the center of town to get picked up by Chief Tsosie Slot Canyon Tours to take us for a half day tour to Upper and Lower Antelope Canyon. When we used them they drove us out in 20 year old pickup trucks with cages in the back, but they have recently upgraded to very nice shuttles that have air conditioning. Either way I highly recommend them!

Antelope Canyon is a two separate slot canyons located near Page, Arizona. Upper Antelope Canyon is known as “The Crack” and Lower Antelope Canyon is known as the “Corkscrew”. The Navajo also refer to Upper Antelope Canyon as “the place where water runs through the rocks”, and Lower Antelope Canyon as “spiral rock arches”. The canyons are formed by the erosion of the Navajo Sandstone due to flash flooding. Rainwater during the monsoon season runs into the slot canyons, picks up speed, and over time erodes away the sandstone, thus deepening the canyons. Flash flooding can occur suddenly and care must be taken; one such incident occurred on October 30th 2006 for 36 hours, and caused the Tribal Park Authorities to close the Lower Antelope Canyon for five months!

2017-09-01 USA 030_luminar2017-09-01 USA 0312017-09-01 USA 0322017-09-01 USA 0342017-09-01 USA 0382017-09-01 USA 0392017-09-01 USA 0472017-09-01 USA 0572017-09-01 USA 0642017-09-01 USA 0722017-09-01 USA 085_luminar2017-09-01 USA 0892017-09-01 USA 0912017-09-01 USA 092

After exploring Upper and Lower Antelope Canyon we explored Horseshoe Bend, which was just a few minutes away. Horseshoe Bend is a horseshoe shaped meander of the Colorado River. The river has an absolutely beautiful blue-green tinge to it.

2017-09-01 USA 102_luminar

After visiting Horseshoe Bend we drove to Flagstaff where we stayed the night at the beautiful Courtyard by Marriott for about $165 CDN a night. At the time it had just opened a week prior and still had the new hotel smell (formaldehyde). For dinner we ate at Flagstaff Brewing Company. The food was okay, but fairly greasy. The beer was very good though!

2017-09-01 USA 1102017-09-01 USA 1112017-09-01 USA iPhone 0892017-09-01 USA iPhone 0902017-09-01 USA iPhone 091

On Day 3 we drove to Albuquerque, stopping at the Puye Cliff Dwellings about 1.75 hours north of Albuquerque. I forget where we stayed to be honest. We stopped at Nemesis Brewing Company for dinner and some beers. The food was quite delicious and the beers were extremely delicious; they even had some IPA’s which are my beer of choice.

2017-09-01 USA 1282017-09-01 USA 134_luminar2017-09-01 USA 1402017-09-01 USA 1412017-09-01 USA 1422017-09-01 USA 1452017-09-01 USA 1462017-09-01 USA 1482017-09-01 USA 1522017-09-01 USA 1532017-09-01 USA 1552017-09-01 USA 1582017-09-01 USA iPhone 1202017-09-01 USA iPhone 1212017-09-01 USA iPhone 122

Be sure to check back soon for Part 2 of 2 of this USA road trip!

If you like the content that I produce and want to donate money towards the upkeep of my site, my travel, or buy me a cup of coffee please feel free to contribute towards it. I really appreciate it.

Donate By Clicking Here

Czech Republic – Pilsner Urquell Brewery Tour

After visiting Český Krumlov it was time to head to Pilsen for a tour of the Pilsner Urquell Brewery in the city of Pilsen. Before we take a look at the brewery lets take a look at the beautiful city of Pilsen.

2019-10-18 Pilsen 022019-10-18 Pilsen 032019-10-18 Pilsen 042019-10-18 Pilsen 072019-10-18 Pilsen 082019-10-18 Pilsen 092019-10-18 Pilsen 10

The brewery was founded in 1839 by local Czech and German speaking citizens in the city and for the first two years was brewed in the homes of the locals. There was major inconsistencies in the beer so it was decided to build the Burgess Brewery in 1842, which is where the current brewery stands today. Currently the brewery produces almost 10 million hectoliters of beer per year. It was the first brewery in the world to produce pale lager, branded as Pilsner Urquell since 1898, which can be roughly translated from Czech to English as “the original source at Pilsen”. The beer was trademarked in 1898. The brewery was sold to the Japanese company Asahi in March 2017.

During the tour they took us to the original water tower, the bottling factory, the old brewery, the new brewery, and the original underground cellar network. We even were able to sample some of the original unfiltered and unpasteurized beer that is still brewed and stored in kegs in the underground cellar. The flavor profile is quite distinct compared to the regular filtered version.

2019-10-18 Pilsen 012019-10-18 Pilsen 112019-10-18 Pilsen 122019-10-18 Pilsen 132019-10-18 Pilsen 142019-10-18 Pilsen 152019-10-18 Pilsen 162019-10-18 Pilsen 172019-10-18 Pilsen 192019-10-18 Pilsen 202019-10-18 Pilsen 212019-10-18 Pilsen 222019-10-18 Pilsen 232019-10-18 Pilsen 242019-10-18 Pilsen 262019-10-18 Pilsen 272019-10-18 Pilsen 282019-10-18 Pilsen 292019-10-18 Pilsen 302019-10-18 Pilsen 312019-10-18 Pilsen 332019-10-18 Pilsen 362019-10-18 Pilsen 372019-10-18 Pilsen 392019-10-18 Pilsen 402019-10-18 Pilsen 422019-10-18 Pilsen 432019-10-18 Pilsen 442019-10-18 Pilsen 452019-10-18 Pilsen 462019-10-18 Pilsen 472019-10-18 Pilsen 48

If you like the content that I produce and want to donate money towards the upkeep of my site, my travel, or buy me a cup of coffee please feel free to contribute towards it. I really appreciate it.

Donate By Clicking Here

 

Belgium – Brussels – Day 2 of 2

Today I woke up at 8:00am and had some coffee in my room before venturing out to explore more of the city.

First stop was Hôtel van Eetvelde, which was sadly under construction so I couldn’t get any good pictures of it. Hôtel van Eetvelde is a town house designed in 1895 by Victor Horta for Edmond van Eetvelde, the administrator of Congo Free State.

Second stop was Maison Saint-Cyr was built in 1903 to serve as a mansion for the painter Georges Saint-Cyr. The façade is about four metres wide, and is rich in finely worked ironwork that forms a set of lines, curves and geometric figures. Each balcony has a railing with different patterns.

IMG_0353

Third stop was Stoclet Palace, after a few quick photos of some various things along the way. Stoclet Palace was built in 1911 in the Viennese Secession style by architect Josef Hoffmann. It was built for Adophe Stoclet, a wealthy industrialist and art collector.

IMG_0357IMG_0359IMG_0365

Fourth stop and fifth stop was Arcades du Cinquantenaire and Autoworld. Arcades du Cinquantenaire is a triple arch in the centre of Brussels and is topped by a bronze quadriga sculpture group with a woman charioteer, representing Brabant raising the national flag. Autoworld is a substantial collection of vintage vehicles in extremely well preserved states.

IMG_0374IMG_0377IMG_0383IMG_0388IMG_0389IMG_0394IMG_0398IMG_0399IMG_0420IMG_0427IMG_0434IMG_0436IMG_0440IMG_0445

The sixth stop was the National Basilica of the Sacred Heart, a beautiful Art Deco church that was completed in 1970. Construction began in 1905 in Neo-Gothic style, but only the foundations had been completed before World War 1 broke out. Construction of the actual basilica began in 1919, with the architectural style changing to Art Deco, and was not completed until 1970.

IMG_0465IMG_0472IMG_0473

The seventh and eighth stops were Mini-Europe and Atomium. Mini-Europe is a miniature park that was started in 1989 and represents over 80 countries and 350 buildings. Atomium was designed and constructed for the 1958 Brussels World Expo by architect Andre and Jean Polak. It is 102 metres (335 feet) tall and has nine 18 metre (60 foot) diameter stainless steel clad spheres which are connected by escalators and stairs. 3 metre (10 foot) diameter tubes connect the spheres. The central tube had the world’s fastest elevator at the time; allowing people to reach the summit in only 23 seconds at 5 metres/second. The Atomium, was designed to last a mere six months and was slated for destruction after the 1958 World Expo, but due to its popularity it made it a major element of Brussels landscape. A weird piece of history about Atomium is that SABAM, Belgium’s society for collecting copyrights, claimed worldwide intellectual property rights on all reproduction of the image via the United States Artists Rights Society (ARS). There are numerous censored images circulating the internet, but finally in 2016 there was a bill enacted to allow pictures to be legally distributed.

IMG_0480IMG_0490IMG_0493IMG_0505IMG_0525IMG_0526IMG_0529IMG_0530IMG_0538IMG_0539IMG_0540IMG_0546IMG_0550IMG_0552IMG_0554IMG_0561IMG_0569IMG_0585

I then stopped for dinner at the same restaurant I stopped at for lunch yesterday; Tonton Garby, before heading to get a new power adapted, because I somehow forgot mine at home. After getting a power adapter I visited the Brussels Comic Strip Museum, and then went to Beer Planet and picked up a few authentic trappist monk beers that were recommended to me.

IMG_0611IMG_0612IMG_0616IMG_0617IMG_0618IMG_0620IMG_0627IMG_0630IMG_0635

I went back to my hotel room to edit photos and write my blog before heading out to take some night time photos of Atomium.

Valley Of 5 Lakes & Bald Hills Hikes

Yesterday I completed two hikes in Jasper National Park; Valley of 5 Lakes & Bald Hills. I started my day off early at 6:30am by waking up and making a nutritious breakfast omelet and coffee before setting off on a 5 hour drive towards Jasper.

First stop was Valley of 5 Lakes, a short 4.5km hike with a mere 154 metres of elevation gain. The hike was amazing; it started through a moderate density forest and opened up into a meadow before going back into a forest with a view of five beautiful turquoise and emerald coloured lakes. The hike took roughly an hour to complete and was completely worth the visit.

2019-08-31 Valley Of 5 Lakes 12019-08-31 Valley Of 5 Lakes 22019-08-31 Valley Of 5 Lakes 32019-08-31 Valley Of 5 Lakes 5

It was nearly lunch so it was time to head into Jasper. I stopped at my favorite place; Jasper Brewing Company and had a cheddar burger with poutine, and a pint of their Rockhopper IPA, which is super tasty.

After lunch I drove to Maligne Lake, where I started on the trailhead to Bald Hills. It was a light misty rain when I started the hike, but over the course of the hike it started to rain more and more. About 1/3 of the way through the hike I met a wonderful woman named Susan, and her husband Steve. They had one of their daughters, and daughters friend with them. We spent the rest of the hike together, which made for a nice time. One of the kids made a hilarious comment when we were talking about religion. She said “Is a Protestant also a prostitute; we all burst out laughing! By the end of the hike we were all soaked. The hike was 13.2km with 701 metres of elevation gain; I definitely felt it in my quads towards the end.

2019-08-31 Bald Hills 12019-08-31 Bald Hills 22019-08-31 Bald Hills 3

After the hike I drove back into Jasper to fill up my Lexus with fuel, and get some coffee from Tim Horton’s before heading back to Calgary. I finally made it home around 10:30pm.

Vietnam – Day 9 – Ninh Binh & Hanoi

Today I woke up at 3:30am when the power went out. The room became unbearably stuffy because there was no air-conditioning or air flow from the fan. I managed to finally get back to sleep before waking up again at 6:00am. I decided to go downstairs to get some breakfast and a coffee before getting ready to head out for the day. Oh by the way did I mention that my place has the cutest puppies I’ve ever seen!

2019-05-17 Vietnam iPhone Photos 2072019-05-17 Vietnam iPhone Photos 2092019-05-17 Vietnam iPhone Photos 211

I started to ride my motorcycle into the town of Ninh Binh so that I could get more cash from the bank, as I was running low on cash. Sadly the motorcycle died and I had to do a walk of shame for about 1.5km before coming to a gas station. I filled the motorcycle up with gas, but sadly it still wasn’t working properly. I kept stalling out unless I gunned the throttle, but even then it would start to hesitate after a few seconds. I finally figured out a movement that seemed to work; hold the throttle full blast for 3 seconds, let off for a few seconds, and then repeat. I managed to get into town and pick up more cash.

2019-05-17 Vietnam iPhone Photos 203

After picking up cash I rode the motorcycle to the Danh Thang Trang An boat tours, about 10km away. The motorcycle was really starting to act up now, and even dying for up to 10 minutes every few kilometers. Again, I figured out another trick; if I bounced on the bike up and down a lot, and then sloshed the fuel from side to side then it would eventually start if I help the throttle down half way. Eventually I got to the boat tours at about 10:00am. Along the way I did see this beautiful looking temple from the side of the road, as well as a very cool gateway.

2019-05-25 Ninh Binh 41.jpg

The boat tour lasted about 3 hours and cost 200000 Dong ($12.50 CDN). The tour took the group of four people through numerous caves and to a few temples. It was absolutely fascinating!

2019-05-25 Ninh Binh 422019-05-25 Ninh Binh 432019-05-25 Ninh Binh 442019-05-25 Ninh Binh 462019-05-25 Ninh Binh 472019-05-25 Ninh Binh 482019-05-25 Ninh Binh 492019-05-25 Ninh Binh 512019-05-25 Ninh Binh 552019-05-25 Ninh Binh 562019-05-25 Ninh Binh 572019-05-25 Ninh Binh 582019-05-25 Ninh Binh 592019-05-25 Ninh Binh 682019-05-25 Ninh Binh 69

After finishing the tour I rode the motorcycle back to the hotel, about 10km away. It took me over one hour to get back because the bike kept on breaking down. When I got back to the hotel I explained what was happening to the owner and she said that she would take a look at it. Unfortunately within 15 minutes she had already loaned it out to someone else, which I found to be quite dishonest.

I was feeling quite hungry at this point in time, as it was well past lunch time, so I decided to walk down the street and see if I could find something to eat. I came across this nice small restaurant called Sunflower Tam Coc and ordered some pho, salad rolls, and some fresh beer.

2019-05-17 Vietnam iPhone Photos 206.JPG

After lunch I walked back to the hotel, checked out, and ordered a GRAB to the Ninh Binh train station. The fare for the ride was 80000 Dong ($5 CDN), but all I had was a 200000 Dong note for which he didn’t have change for. It wasn’t a big deal for me and I told him to keep the change, but he insisted on getting me the correct change. He ran around the six different stores asking for them to make change, all the while leaving me inside his car with the keys in the ignition and the engine running. I felt pretty bad for the guy. Remember, in Vietnam it is not customary to tip and many people will flat our refuse even if its a nice gesture. Oh and safety isn’t top priority in this country; take a look at his seatbelt reminder defeat with a plastic spoon!

2019-05-17 Vietnam iPhone Photos 212.JPG

I was about 1.5 hours early for the train, but ended up talking with the nice young man from Chile that was backpacking around SE Asia. The train ride back to Hanoi took about 2.25 hours. After arriving in Hanoi I took a GRAB to the hotel I was staying at two nights ago so that I could pick up my passport before carrying onto my new hotel called Hotel Golden Art. Hotel Golden Art wasn’t the nicest, but it did the trick for the night.

2019-05-17 Vietnam iPhone Photos 2132019-05-17 Vietnam iPhone Photos 214

After checking  into the hotel I walked down the street to a fast food Bahn Mi place called Pho Bahn Mi. The food was absolutely delicious, in fact I ordered a second because it was so good. After having dinner I walked back to the hotel and went to bed.

Be sure to check back tomorrow when I take a brief pause from the Vietnam series to share a recent hike that I completed with my father to Plains of Six Glaciers, before continuing with my Vietnam series. The next part in my Vietnam series has me travelling to Ha Long Bay, so be sure to stay tuned!

If you like the content that I produce and want to donate money towards the upkeep of my site, my travel, or buy me a cup of coffee please feel free to contribute towards it. I really appreciate it.

Donate By Clicking Here

Vietnam – Day 8 – Ninh Binh

Today I woke up at 5:30am. I’m still struggling with this persistent jet lag, a whole 8 days later. I packed my bags and got ready, before heading down for breakfast at the buffet. After breakfast I walked about 10 minutes to the Hanoi central train station.

2019-05-17 Vietnam iPhone Photos 191

There’s a few ways of obtaining train tickets; you can buy right at the station, or you can buy online from a third party which charges a small booking fee on top. Unfortuneately foreigners can’t book online through the REAL Vietnam Rail website unless you happen to have a Vietnam bank card, which I presume almost everyone won’t. Also one thing to note is that there are a lot of fake websites in Vietnam, and other parts of SE Asia for things like trains, airlines, museums, etc. You need to be extra diligent and do your research as they mostly all look the same. I read multiple travel blogs to ensure that I was picking the appropriate websites. Anyways, I chose to use the third party website called Balou, as it came the highest recommended. I only paid about $2 CDN more to book it online through them than just showing up, but it was a nice piece of mind knowing everything was taken care of beforehand.

The train departed Hanoi station at 7:30am and slowly crawled its way through the city before picking up speed. About 15 minutes into the train ride I realized that I had made a bad mistake… I forgot my passport and US cash in the safe back at the hotel. I called the hotel and explained the situation, gave them the passcode for my safe, and told them that I’ll be back tomorrow evening to pick it up. Phew, disaster averted.

2019-05-17 Vietnam iPhone Photos 1922019-05-17 Vietnam iPhone Photos 193

The train arrived at Ninh Binh station at around 10:00am. While exiting the station I booked a GRAB, which happened to be waiting right out front. It took about 15 minutes to drive from Ninh Binh train station to my accommodation in Tam Coc, called Tuan Ngoc Hotel. The fare was 76000 Dong ($4.35 CDN). After arriving at the hotel I dropped off my bags I decided to rent a motorcycle from the hotel for two days for a cost of 110000 Dong/day ($6.25/day). The motorcycle didn’t include gasoline so I had to find a gas station before I ran out of gas, as they had drained all the fuel out minus a few drops.

2019-05-17 Vietnam iPhone Photos 202

First stop was Hang Mua viewpoint, about a 6km ride away. Something to note here is that you don’t take the first parking spot that people try to flag you down to because you’ll end up paying way more, and have to walk a fair distance. If you can drive past all the people standing in the middle of the road you’ll find yourself with parking right at the entrance for only 10000 Dong ($0.55 CDN). Unfortuneately despite reading this there was an extremely persistent group of very angry sounding Vietnamese women that wouldn’t get out of the road and pretty much forced me to park in their parking spot for 25000 Dong ($1.35 CDN). Obviously we’re not talking about much money here, but the fact they were so pushy left a sour taste in my mouth. Picture down below of where NOT to park.

2019-05-17 Vietnam iPhone Photos 195.JPG

After a 15 minute walk from the very end of the road I came to the entrance of the Hang Mua Viewpoint, which had a nominal entry fee of 100000 Dong ($5.50 CDN). There is a small cave at the start of the steps up to the viewpoint with a tiger statue and some offerings from the locals.

2019-05-25 Ninh Binh 092019-05-25 Ninh Binh 282019-05-25 Ninh Binh 08

After viewing inside the cave it was time to start the hot and strenuous journey up to the vietpoint. 500 steps and about 20 minutes later I was dripping in sweat, but looking at an absolutely fantastic view of the karst sceneries of Tam Coc, as well as the Lying Dragon ontop of the mountain. I spent some considerable time up here getting the photos that I wanted to get, before heading back down so that I could get some lunch.

2019-05-25 Ninh Binh 112019-05-25 Ninh Binh 142019-05-25 Ninh Binh 162019-05-25 Ninh Binh 232019-05-25 Ninh Binh 262019-05-17 Vietnam iPhone Photos 329

After walking back to the bike I rode back into town to get some lunch from a restaurant, which I unfortunately forget the name of. I had some beef pho soup, but it wasn’t very good and the service was quite slow.

After having some lunch I rode a short distance away to Bich Dong Pagoda. The parking attendent wanted to charge me 30000 Dong ($1.65 CDN) but I ended up negotiating down to 20000 Dong ($1.10 CDN). I crossed over a bridge through some temple gates, walked a short while to the Lower Pagoda, before ascending 100 steps to the Middle Pagoda, which is built half inside of a cave. There are roughly 20-25 steep steps to the Upper Pagoda, which is fully inside the cave, which is also filled with bats. Bich Dong Pagoda was built by the two monks Tri Kien and Tri The in the early 18th century.

2019-05-25 Ninh Binh 302019-05-25 Ninh Binh 312019-05-25 Ninh Binh 322019-05-25 Ninh Binh 342019-05-25 Ninh Binh 372019-05-25 Ninh Binh 382019-05-25 Ninh Binh 392019-05-25 Ninh Binh 40

It was starting to get extremely hot as it was mid afternoon, so I rode back to the hotel and hung out in the pool for a few hours.

For dinner I rode to the Bia Minh Beer Garden, which was just down the street. I probably could have walked but I was feeling lazy from my hike up all those stairs earlier today. For dinner I had a Hawaiian pizza, and a pork Banh Mi sandwich, along with a mini keg of fresh beer. I’ve never seen anything like it before; it’s a combination between a growler and a keg. This was some of the freshest beer I’ve had in SE Asia so far. During dinner it started to pour rain. After dinner I rode back to the hotel in the pouring rain and ended up going to bed at around 9:00pm.

2019-05-17 Vietnam iPhone Photos 1982019-05-17 Vietnam iPhone Photos 1992019-05-17 Vietnam iPhone Photos 200

Be sure to check back tomorrow when I explore more of Ninh Binh before heading back to Hanoi.

If you like the content that I produce and want to donate money towards the upkeep of my site, my travel, or buy me a cup of coffee please feel free to contribute towards it. I really appreciate it.

Donate By Clicking Here