Colorado – Day 2 – Maroon Bells

Today our main highlight was hiking in Maroon Bells. Maroon Bells is Colorado’s premier fall hiking location, featuring Maroon Lake surrounded by mountains and beautiful fall foliage. The area gets its name from two 14000 mountains named Maroon Peak and North Maroon Peak. Maroon Bells is only about a 30 minute drive from Aspen.

We arrived around 7:50am, as the parking lot closes at 8:00am. We had to reserve our spot, which we did over six months ago. While we were there we completed two hikes; The Scenic Loop Trail (3 Miles, 120 feet Elevation), and The Crater Lake Trail (3.6 Miles, 500 feet Elevation). 

The Scenic Loop follows the North side of Maroon Lake, and loops around on the West side.

The Crater Lake Trail essentially follows the same route, around the lake, but then branches off on the West side of the lake and continues through the Valley until you reach Crater Lake.

It was about 11am when we finished the two hikes. We drove back to our hotel to grab a cup of coffee, and our bathing suits, before heading out again.

Next stop was The Grotto Trail, about a 20 minute drive the other direction from our lodging in Aspen. It was back the same we drove in from yesterday. The Grottos Trail features an ice cave, smooth cascading granite from the water running over it for thousands of years, and a beautiful cascading waterfall. The hike isn’t very hard and only takes about 20-30 minutes to complete. It was pouring rain for the majority of the hike, but was worth it.

Next stop was Glenwood Hot Springs Pool located in Glenwood Springs. The area was originally inhabited by Indigenous people before Americans colonized the area. Glenwood Springs, originally known as Defiance, was established in 1883 as a camp of tents, saloons and brothels. The town was founded by Isaac Cooper. The town was mostly populated with gambles, gunslingers, and prostitutes, and stayed as a small encampment until the larger mining town of Carbonate lost its position as a county seat, until some bribery occurred to shut down the post office in Carbonate, and moved the post office to Glenwood Springs. The city then thrived and became the main town where miners in the area lived.

The therapeutic springs waters, called Yampah, also known as Big Medicine by the aboriginals (Ute Native Americans) were used as a sacred place of healing since atleast the 1860’s. In 1890 the original red sandstone bathhouse and lodge was built for $100000. It was designed by Austrian architect Theodore von Rosenberg, who’s buildings I have definitely seen before in Vienna. The bathhouse features tubs, vapor baths, a ladies parlor, physicians office, gymnasium, smoking rooms, and reading rooms. The building houses 44 bathing rooms. The main pool is 405 feet long by 105 feet wide and contains 1.07 million gallons of water that is kept at 32° C. The hot “therapy” pool is 100 feet long by 105 feet wide and contains 91000 gallons of water kept at 40° C.

During World War II the resort Hotel Colorado and Hot Springs Bathhouse) was exclusively used as a US Naval Convalescent Hospital. It was the only time in history that the bathhouse was closed to the public. In 1970 an upgraded water filtration system was installed to filter the 3.5 million gallons per day of 52° C water. In 1986 a 107 room lodge was built on the North side of the pool.

After visiting the pool we walked around the town for a bit before driving back to our hotel.

Once we were back at the hotel we walked to White House Tavern, where I had a delicious chuck steak burger, and dad had a French beef dip sandwich. We spent the rest of the evening relaxing and chatting before it was time to go to bed.

Colorado – Day 1 – Ghost Towns

It’s been a few years since my Dad and I went on a father-son trip somewhere. This year we decided to go to MColorado. Dad and I had been talking about doing some hiking in Maroon Bells, Colorado for quite a few years.

We flew on a direct United Airlines flight into Denver on an Airbus A319. After landing in the mid-morning we picked up our rental vehicle, a Ford Explorer, and started off on our journey.

First stop was Bass Pro Shop to pickup some bear spray, followed by a quick lunch at Good Times Burger & Frozen Custard. Dad and I both just had a burger, and a diet Pepsi.

After lunch we drove to our first major stop of the day; the Argo Gold Mine and Mill. The Argo Gold Mine and Mill is a former gold mining and milling property located in Idaho Springs, Colorado. The mill at the entrance of the tunnel was in excellent condition, and remains intact over 100 years later. The Argo Tunnel was built between 1893 and 1910. Over $100 million of gold, and $200 million of other high value ores were mined prior to the tunnel closing in 1943 due to a major flooding accident when they tried to blast the Kansas Boroughs area. The flooding spilled thousands of gallons a minute of acidic water (pH 3) all over the area. A federal moratorium was also placed on gold mining during World War II, which didn’t help. In 1976 the mine was purchased by a local investment group led by James Maxwell, who wanted to showcase a prime example of the Colorado gold rush mines. It was renovated and reopened as a tourist attraction. In 1978 the mine was added to the National Register of Historic Places. Working conditions at the mine were brutal, with the average worker only living 3-5 years after starting work there. In 1996 a waste water treatment facility was built to treat the acidic water, which was still flowing at a fairly high rate of a few thousand gallons per minute, because the acidic water was killing the fish. In 2015 a 5 foot thick concrete wall, and a dedicated pipe and valve was built to contain the water and control the flow rate to a more manageable 700 gallons per minute. Overall the mine and mill tour absolutely impressed me.

After visiting the gold mine and mill we drove to our next stop; Blue Lake. Blue Lake is a man made dam that provides drinker water to Blue River and Breckenridge.

It was then time to head to our hotel, Mountain Chalet in Aspen. The drive went over the Independence Pass Continental Divide. Standing at just over 12000 feet above sea level, this beautiful drive offered stunning views of the valleys below. It was pretty chilly up top; only 6 degrees Celsius or so.

Just after passing the top of the pass we found a historic mill site called Farwell Mill #2, which was part of Independence Ghost Town. It was a 20 stamp mill that crushed gold ore. The mill was originally opened in 1879 as a 10 stamp mill, however it was quickly realized that an expansion was required, and Farwell Mill #2 was opened in 1881 with an additional 20 stamps, along with the Brown Tunnel to deliver a greater load of ore. By the end of 1883 the major veins of the mine were fully extracted, and the mine was quietly closed. The mine re-opened in the 1920’s with a new gold rush, however it only produced small amounts, and was later abandoned again.

The total drive from Denver took about 8 hours with all of our stops. I suspect you can get there in 4.5-5 hours without stops. After checking into our hotel we walked to a restaurant called Brunelleschi’s, which was recommended to us by our hotel concierge. I had a pizza, and dad had some asparagus and mushroom risotto.

On our way back to the hotel we stopped at a grocery store to pickup food for tomorrow. I ended up writing my blog, and chatting on the phone for a bit with Julie, before heading to bed.

Waterfalls & Rice Terraces! – Northern Bali, Indonesia

Today was a day of exploring waterfalls. We ended up hiring another driver from Bali Customized Tours, however I forget what his name was this time… I think it was Ali. We had breakfast at the Westin hotel again, and was picked up at 7:00am.

First stop was Leke Leke Falls. The last few kilometres of driving took nearly half an hour because of how bumpy and uneven the road was. The waterfall isn’t frequented as many others around Bali, so we were the only ones there. Standing at 32 metres high, the water sources are from springs in the mountains, so the water is quite clear. The entrance fee to the waterfall is about $4/pp and the hike takes about 30 minutes return.

After visiting Leke Leke falls we drove to Sekumpul Waterfall, about another hour away. You need to hire a local guide to bring you down to the waterfall, because its a protected area. Our guide introduced us to his family, and he had a pretty cute dog named Molly that ended up following us for a while. The hike to the 80 metre high waterfall takes about 45 minutes, and involves going down about 350 steps. At the beginning of the hike there’s some beautiful rice terraces.

After exploring Sekumpul Waterfall our guide showed us another waterfall, just 10 minutes away, which involved two water crossings. This is the fifth time I’ve had to do a water crossing in my hiking adventures, and I really enjoyed it.

Now it was time to climb those 350 stairs to head back to the car. It wasn’t too bad, but it’s certainly not fun in 32°C heat!

We then drove to a local warung to have some lunch. Unfortunately this was a very bad choice to eat this time round, because Julie and I both ended up getting quite sick for a few days, as you’ll find out in subsequent blogs.

After lunch we visited Aling Aling Waterfall, which was just a few minutes away. Aling Aling Waterfall stands over 35 metres tall. We had the opportunity to also go down a natural waterslide, or jump into the water, however we were really beginning to not feel well, so we asked to just go to our hotel. The drive to the hotel was about another hour, which made for an uncomfortable ride.

Our accommodation tonight was at Handara Golf Resort. Handara Golf Resort is a beautiful mid-century hotel that was the brainchild of Ibnu Sutowo, known as the “father” of Golf in Indonesia. The resort took two years to build, and was opened in 1976. The resort was completely renovated in 2015, however still maintains its mid-century charm. In 1979 the golf course at the resort was rated as one of the Top 50 greatest courses in the world.

For dinner we had some western style food, since we wanted something we were used to, and were not feeling very good. Julie had an open faced burger with beef bacon, and I had some Japanese Ramen. Since we were not feeling well we decided to watch Netflix in bed, and head to bed early.

Sunshine Meadows Hike

A few weeks ago I had the chance to finally hike in Sunshine Meadows, a beautiful alpine setting located slightly Southwest of Banff. Sunshine Meadows has been closed since the beginning of COVID, two and a half years ago.

To get to Sunshine Meadows you take a gondola from the base (1659 masl) to the Sunshine Village Terminal (2159 masl). The 4.5km gondola ride is fairly unique because it has two curves, and a mid-station, all while staying on the same cable! The highest point of the gondola is 40 metres (130 feet). The gondola was opened in 2001, and includes 165 8-passenger cabins, four garbage carriers, and one work carrier. A few fun facts, are that there was an accident in 2016 when two empty gondola cars came off the cable in high winds and crashed to the ground, and in June 2013 nine of their cabins were washed away during the Alberta Flood that occurred because they were getting painted, and were washed away. They were all found, and one nearly had made its way all the way to Canmore!

After arriving at Sunshine Village you’re given a quick orientation on the trail system, and then you’re off on your own. After a seven minute ride on the Standish Chairlift you arrive at the very top of the hike, where you’re presented with gorgeous 360 degree views of the mountains surrounding you. There’s beautiful alpine flowers all around!

Normally my hikes start at the lowest point, and end up on a mountain peak, but this hike is the inverse of that. The 2.5 hour hike starts with a steep descent towards Rock Isle Lake, before continuing on a loop around Grizzly Lake and Laryx Lake, before heading back up to the top. It’s amazing at how much the scenery changes as you progress through he hike.

The was one of my favourite hikes that I’ve done in Canada, and is a great family friendly hike, that isn’t too difficult. The 2.5 hour hike has 316 metres of elevation differential over 8.0 kilometres.

Wedgemount Lake Hike

The next day I woke up at 7am and drove the 2 hour to the Wedgemount Lake parking lot. Wedgemount Lake is located in Garibaldi Provincial Park. This was the hardest hike that I’ve ever completed in my entire life, but it was surely worth it. The hike was a brutal 1362 metres of elevation gain over only 12.6km return. My body hurt for 5 days after! At the top you’re presented with beautiful alpine lake views! Make sure to stick around if it’s socked in with fog, because it clears fairly routinely.

After the hike I drove four hours to Kamloops and checked in to the Pacific Inn & Suites. While the beds were comfortable you can tell the hotel was in need of some love, which included the pool area being turned into a hookah storage area. Normally these rooms go for $150-200 per night, however I only paid $30 in taxes because I had a free stay voucher.

After some much needed sleep I woke up and could barely walk due to muscles being tense from the hike the day before. I started the 8 hour journey back to Calgary with a stop in Revelstoke at a favourite location (La Baguette) for breakfast. I had a delicious turkey pesto sandwich.

Joffre Lakes Hike

Two weeks ago I drove out to Western British Columbia to do some hiking at Joffre Lakes and Wedgemount Lake. I took four days off from work and drove out on a Thursday to Pemberton, British Columbia. Upon arrival I hit-up a local brewery (Pemberton Brewing Company) for a flight of beers, grabbed some groceries for hiking food for the next day from the local grocery store, before checking into my hotel; The Hitching Post Motel. The motel was a bit of a blast to the past with carpeted window sills, cigarette smell, and generally run down, but it was the “nicest” place to stay in the area for under $200 per night. After having a sound sleep I woke up around 7am and had a ham and cheese sandwich with the groceries that I had purchased the day before, before gathering my stuff and hopping into my car to drive 30 minutes to Joffre Lakes.

Joffre Lakes hike is a medium difficulty hike with 493 metres of elevation gain over a 8.5 kilometre round trip. The hike only took me about 2.25 hours to complete. The government staff at the base of the hike were surprised at how fast I completed it because it usually takes 4 hours.

After completing the hike I drove to Lillooet, got some groceries and ate at the Lillooet Cookhouse Restaurant for dinner. They didn’t have much of a selection so I had nacho poutine. Accommodation was at Hotel DeOro; a complete surprise because it was just recently taken over my new management and they were great. The hotel was exceptionally clean, beds super comfortable, and the staff super friendly. During the evening I explored the old Lillooet Suspension Bridge, which was built in 1913. It spans 161 metres over the Fraser River. The bridge served a long life carrying traffic until 1981 when the Bridge of Twenty-Three Camels was completed. The suspension bridge was eventually decommissioned and in 2003, the District of Lillooet and the British Columbia Ministry of Transport restored the bridge as a pedestrian-only crossing.

Be sure to check back tomorrow when I hike Wedgemount Lake!

Mist Mountain Hike

A few weeks ago Julie and I hiked Mist Mountain Springs Trail. The hike is a fairly steep one at 555 metres over only 6.4 kilometres return. It’s definitely worth it because you’re presented with a refreshing natural hot springs at the end of it. Julie had a bit of an asthma attack at the top so I solo’d it to the hot springs. The last 400 metres were fairly sketchy as they were traversing over a 30 degree shale rock face with a bunch of snow. It was certainly prime for an avalanche, and thinking back I shouldn’t have made the trek to the hot springs.

Funny story… while I planned on going into the hot springs the wind was fairly strong and the air was a bit cold so I decided to not go in… but while I was trying to take a picture of a couple I accidentally fell in and had soggy boots for the rest of the hike.

Spring 2022 Update – Calgary Zoo, Kelowna, Vancouver

It’s been a busy few months since I returned from Portugal! I’ve been working a fair amount between my two jobs, which took me to Vancouver and Kelowna. I also did videography at a wedding at the Fairmont Palliser, a grad photoshoot, and visited the Calgary Zoo.

Vancouver

In early May I visited Vancouver for an LNG Conference that my company was attending. While the majority of the time was spent working, I did have a few hours to explore the city and look at architecture. I’ll dive a bit into the history of each building below.

885 West Georgia Street, also known as the HSBC Canada Building, is a 23-storey building that was designed by WZMH Architects, and constructed between 1984 and 1986. The lobby features a large magnetically induced pendulum that was designed by Alan Storey.

Next door is Hotel Georgia, a 12-storey historic hotel that was opened in 1927. It was designed by Robert T. Garrow and John Graham Senior. The hotel originally had 313 rooms, however they were reduced to 155 after a renovation in 2011.

750 Hornby Street is home to the Vancouver Art Gallery. The building, originally built as a provincial courthouse, has been occupied by the museum since 1983.

Commodore Ballroom was opened in December 1929 as the Commodore Cabaret. It remained open until 1996, when it was closed for a $3.5 million renovation and reopened in 1999. This is a beautiful example of Art Deco style, and was designed by George Conrad Reifel and H.H. Gillingham.

The Orpheum, opened in 1927, was originally a vaudeville house on Theatre Row. It was designed by Scottish architect Marcus Priteca. The theatre has capacity for 2672 people. Following the end of the vaudeville’s heyday in the early 1930’s, the Orpheum became a movie house under Famous Players ownership, however it occasionally hosted live events from time-to-time. In 1973 Famous Players decided it wanted to gut the inside and changed it into a multiplex, however after much protesting it was stopped, and the City of Vancouver purchased the theatre for $7.1 million. The Orpheum closed in November 1975, renovated, and re-opened in April 1977 as the permanent home of the Vancouver Symphony Orchestra.

The Vogue Theatre is a beautiful Art Deco style building that was built in 1941 as a movie house. It was operated by Odeon Theatres until 1984, when the company was acquired into Cineplex Odeon. In 1998 the building was restored. In 2010 the building was converted into an event space. The theatre has a capacity of 1280 people.

The Vancouver Public Library Central Branch building, also known as Library Square, is located at 350 West Georgia Street. The building was built between 1993 and 1995 for a cost of $107 million. The building, designed by Moshe Safdie, Richard Archambault, and Barry Downs, is covered in granite, which was quarried in Horsefly, British Columbia.

The Queen Elizabeth Theatre, built in 1959, was the former home of the Vancouver Symphony Orchestra, before it moved to The Orpheum. The Queen Elizabeth Theatre is now home of the Vancouver Opera and Ballet BC. The main auditorium can seat 2765 people, and the attached Playhouse Theatre can hold 668 people.

BC Place, built between 1981 and 1983 is a multi-purpose stadium that can seat 54500 people. It is home of the BC Lions, which is Vancouver’s CFL football team. The stadium roof is air-supported, and is the largest of its kind in the world.

Science World is a science center housed in a geodesic dome that was built between 1984 and 1985 for Vancouver’s Expo 86′ World’s Fair. The building, designed by Bruno Freschi, served as the fair’s Expo Center. At the end of Expo 86′ the building was repurposed into a science center.

The Pacific Central Station was built in 1917 by the Canadian Northern Railway as the terminus of its line to Edmonton. It was originally named False Creek Station, and was designed by Pratt and Ross.

St. James Anglican Church is a unique church built between 1935 and 1937. The concrete church has a combination of styles ranging from Art Deco, Romanesque Revival, Byzantine Revival, to Gothic Revival.

43 Powell Street, a six-storey heritage building that was built between 1908 and 1909 by Parr and Fee Architects. The building is designed in a flatiron style, similar to the famous flatiron building in New York. The building was originally a hotel named Hotel Europe, however in 1983 it was converted into an affordable housing complex.

The Gas Town Steam Clock was built in 1977 by Raymond Saunders and Doug Smith. It resembles something out of the Victorian era, and is located in Vancouver’s original Gastown district. It receives steam from a series of pipes connected to a generating plant at Georgia and Beatty Streets. The steam system provides heat the the majority of the downtown core, similar to how New York City’s steam system operates. This clock is rumored to be only one of two steam clocks ever constructed, because of their inherent inaccuracies. The first steam clock was build by Englishman John Inshaw in 1859, apparently to lure in customers to his tavern.

128 West Cordova Street, was originally the site of the Woodward’s Building, which was constructed in 1903 for the Woodward’s Department Store, a premier shopping store back in its heyday. I remember my parents shopping at a Woodward’s store when I was a kid. Woodward’s ended up going bankrupt and was sold to the Hudson’s Bay Company in 1993. After Woodward’s went bankrupt the building sat vacant until 2012, when a redevelopment plan was initiated. Part of the redevelopment plan included the construction of a new high rise mixed-use building called W43. The building stands 122 metres (401 feet) tall and is another flatiron style building with an exterior steel skeleton, which evokes the steel construction method used in Vancouver in the early 20th century. The rest of the original block was retained. The original Woodward’s building had a “W” neon sign that resembled that of a mini Eiffel Tower. It was replicated with modern LED lights and re-installed on one of the buildings on the block in 2010.

Credit: Paul Warchol. Creative Commons Use. Photo Taken 2014.

The Dominion Building, located at 207 West Hastings, is Vancouver’s first steel-framed high-rise. Standing 53 metres (175 feet) tall, this 13-storey building was the tallest commercial building in the British Empire when it was completed in 1910. The building took just over 4 years to complete. The building was designed by J.S. Helyer and Son, and is built in Second Empire architecture style, which evolved from French Renaissance style.

Harbour Center is a 147 metre 28-storey tall skyscraper with a circular 360° lookout tower that overlooks the central business district. The brutalist style building was designed by WZMH Architects, and was opened in 1977. The building is somewhat unique as the glass elevators to the observation deck ride on the outside of the building. The building has been featured in a few movies such as The 6th Day, and Blade: Trinity, as well as a few TV Shows such as the X-Files and MacGyver.

The MacMillan Bloedel Building is 27-storey concrete tower with offset halves, tapered walls, and deep recessed windows. This brutalism style (modernist style) structure was designed by Arthur Erickson, Geoff Massey, and Francis Donaldson, and was built between 1968 and 1969.

1285 W Pender Street, also known as the Evergreen Building, is a beautiful multi-terraced building covered in greenery. The building was designed by Arthur Erickson, and built in 1980.

1333 W Georgia Street, also known as the Qube, is a very unique brutalism style (modernist style) building constructed in 1969. The building, designed by Rhone and Iredale Architects, looks like a floating cube, and is supported by a strong concrete core. The Qube was originally constructed as a commercial building, but was later converted to condominiums in 2006.

1919 Beach Avenue, also known as Eugenia Place, is a 19-storey condominium building that overlooks the shoreline of English Bay. The building, designed by Caleb Chan, was constructed in 1991 and features a 37 foot Pin Oak tree on its rooftop in a specially designed circular cauldron. The oak tree on the top of the building is a metaphorical representation of the tall forests of Cedar and Douglas Fir that once stood there. The building is unique in that there is only one suite per floor, with the exception of the top two suites each occupying two floors.

The Bloedel Conservatory is a beautiful domed conservatory and aviary that was opened in 1969. It features of 100 birds, and 500 plant species. It was built as part of a group of centennial projects to celebrate Canada’s 100th anniversary. The triodetic dome frame was manufactured entirely in Ottawa and ship across the country. The structural framework only took 10 days to erect, however the entire dome and plaza took 18 months to complete. The dome was facing a large budget shortfall in 2009, and was slatted for closure after the 2010 Olympics, but after numerous fundraisers and setting up an association, the building was saved, and is still open to the public for a nominal fee.

Vancouver City Hall is a beautiful Art Deco style building that was constructed between 1935 and 1936. It was designed by Fred Townley and Matheson. The building has a twelve-storey tower with a clock on the top.

355 Burrard Street, also known as the Marine Building, is in my opinion one of the most beautiful Art Deco skyscrapers I have seen. It was completed in 1930, and was the tallest skyscraper in the city at that time. The building, designed by McCarter & Nairne, stands 98 metres (321 feet) tall and is comprised of 22 floors.

I also saw some unique street art while I was walking around.

Kelowna

In early January I started working part-time for another company based in Kelowna. In mid-May I spent a few days in Kelowna visiting with my friend Krystylyn, and meeting my colleagues. During my trip Krystylyn and I went on a few hikes.

The first hike we completed was called Fintry Falls. The hike starts off at the historic Fintry Octagonal Dairy Barn, which was constructed in 1924. The unique barn was owned by James Cameron Dun-Waters who developed the farm on the Fintry Estate between 1909 and 1939. The barn was built to house his prized herd of Ayshire cows.

About 100 metres from the barn is the site of a former powerhouse, which James built in 1912 to harness the power from Shorts Creek to provide power for his estate house, barn, and sawmill. I’ll dive into detail about that a bit later.

The hike continues up a few hundred stairs to a beautiful view of Fintry Falls, where Krystylyn and I stopped to admire the views, before venturing further up the trail.

After climbing more stairs we came across some narrow concrete ledges, which we crossed before finding the remains of a wooden suspension bridge that had fallen apart. James had built a dam across a narrow gorge in the Shorts Creek, to where it channeled water into a reservoir. The reservoir then transported water in a large wood-stave, wire-wrapped pipe across this suspension bridge, and over those narrow concrete ledges we had crossed, and then down the hill to the powerhouse. The water pressure available at the powerhouse was apparently around 150psi.

The second hike we completed was called Turkey Vulture Loop, which is located int he Rose Valley Regional Park. The hike progresses through a sparse forest, up some hills, before emerging on a beautiful view of Kelowna.

Calgary Zoo

In late May I visited the Calgary Zoo. There was a few new animals including a Tapir, a baby Gorilla, and a baby Porcupine. I did manage to get a great picture of the Tapir, however wasn’t able to see the baby Gorilla, and didn’t get a great photo of the Porcupine. I was successful in finally getting a bunch of nice photos of the Red Panda’s though, which I’ve been trying to get for years!

Be sure to check back soon, as hiking season has begun, and I’m off to Bali, Indonesia in July!

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Victoria – Christmas 2021 – Part 2 of 2

The next day I woke up around 8:00am, showered, and walked over to my parents Airbnb to pickup keys for the car, so that I could explore a few buildings that I wanted to see that interested me. First stop was to pickup some breakfast, so I drove to a nearby Tim Hortons and got a bagel BELT, a hashbrown, and some coffee.

First architecture stops were 200 and 230 King George Terrace, which are beautiful Art Deco style homes that were built in 1945. They’re currently values at over $2.5 million each!

Next stop was Craigdarroch Castle, a Victorian style mansion that was built in 1890 as a resident for the wealthy coal baron Robert Dunsmuir and his wife Joan. Unfortunately Robert died 17 months before construction of the castle was completed. Once his widow Joan had passed away the Craigdarroch estate was sold to Griffith Hughes for $38000, who subdivided the estate into building lots. To stimulate sales during an extremely slow real estate market, he decided to raffle the home to be won by one of the purchasers of the parcels of land. The winner was Solomon Cameron, who mortgaged the home to finance other failed ventures, which left him broke and the home was defaulted to his creditor, the Bank of Montreal. Over the years the building served as a military hospital, college, offices, and even a conservatory, before it was repurposed to a museum in 1979. The building was designated as a National Historic Site of Canada in 1992.

Next stop was the University of Victoria complex, which houses some unique buildings such as the Clearihue Building, Petch Building, MacLaurin Building, McPherson Library, and Lansdowne Residence Buildings.

The Clearihue Building the the oldest building on the campus. It was constructed in 1961, with an addition built in 1971. The building is an example of modernism, and has a pillared ground floor supporting the classroom floors above, as well as features a clock tower.

The Petch Building was built in 1986 to accommodate the new Faculty of Engineering and the Department of Biochemistry and Microbiology, as well as provide additional space for the Departments of Biology and Chemistry. This brutalism style three story building is contructred out of reinforced concrete, with precase concrete exterior panels. The building features a unique heat-recovery system, where heat can be recovered and reused from air that is being exhausted.

The MacLaurin Building is the largest building on the campus, and was completed in 1966. The brutalism style building consists of several wings of offices, classrooms, and laboratories. The five story building is constructed of reinforced concrete, with an exterior finished in concrete and integrally coloured bricks.

McPherson Library is a modern style four-storey building constructed out of reinforced concrete. The exterior is clad with pre-cast concrete panels with exposed stone aggregate and rough granite. The building was originally constructed between 1963 and 1964, with a major addition built between 1972 and 1973.

The Lansdowne Residence building complex consists of six four-story brutalism style reinforced concrete buildings. The exterior of the buildings are unfinished natural concrete. The buildings can house 280 students.

After exploring the library I went and watching some planes take off and land at Victoria’s Harbour Airport. I also happened to catch a glimpse of a rainbow!

I drove the car back to my parents Airbnb, and just as I was dropping off the car my sister messaged me to see if I wanted to hike Mount Douglas with her. Mount Douglas provides some nice views of the surrounding area.

After hiking with my sister I grabbed some Spicy Beef Pho from Le Petit Saigon, and then went back to my hotel to relax for a bit.

After relaxing at my hotel for a bit I went back to my parents Airbnb and hung out with my parents for a bit. I had a microwavable dinner with them before walking around downtown Victoria to take in some views. We also went to the rooftop patio on the 12th floor, and it had some stunning views of the city below. Afterwards I went back to the hotel for the rest of the evening to relax.

The next morning was Christmas Day. It had snowed a bit overnight, which made it actually feel like Christmas. We all met at my parents Airbnb at 9:30am, opened stockings, cooked our traditional English breakfast that we usually do, and then opened presents. In the afternoon I continued to do a bit more exploring before coming back for dinner.

St. Ann’s Academy and Auditorium was built by the Roman Catholic Congregation of Women (Sisters of Saint Anne of Lachine, Quebec). In 1858 a Chapel was built, in 1971 a School was built, and in 1886 and 1909 a Convent was built. The Sisters of St. Ann closed the academy in 1973 and sold the property to the government to be used as office space for the public service for a few years, until it was closed for major repairs. The building was renovated and restored, and reopened in 1997.

Just down the street from the academy is 895 Academy Close (Athlone Apartments), a beautiful Art Deco / Streamline Moderne building built in 1947. The apartments were designed by Patrick Birley.

Final stop was 900 Park Boulevard (Tweedsmuir Mansions), which a large and beautiful Art Deco / Streamline Moderne building built in 1936. This is probably Victoria’s finest example of surviving Art Deco style building. It was built by McCulloch & Harvey for a cost of $23000. The original building had nine suites, some with their own street entrances. It was also the first apartment in Victoria to have a penthouse suite. In 1986 the building was renovated, including new exterior stucco. In 1995 the apartment complex was converted to a strata condominium complex, and a third storey addition on the West side provided more space for two of the suites.

It was time to head back to my parents Airbnb for dinner, which included turkey, stuffing, mashed potatoes, peas, and carrots. It was absolutely delicious, and it was very enjoyable getting to spend time with my family. After completely stuffing my face with food it was time to head back to my hotel to go to bed.

The next, and final day, I slept-in until 11am. When I looked outside I could see that it had snowed a few inches overnight. I checked out of my hotel room, and walked over to my parents Airbnb, and hung out with them for a few hours before heading to the the airport to take my flight back to Calgary. Before I left I wanted to catch a few more shots of Victoria.

My flight back to Calgary was on a Westjet Dash 8 Q400. Despite the poor weather, the flight was almost on-time leaving. Sadly, my parents had to contend with a nearly 6 hour delay on the following evening when they flew back.

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Horse Thief Canyon Hike

A few weekends ago I had the opportunity to hike down into Horse Thief Canyon, located about 16 kilometres (10 miles) Northwest of Drumheller. At the top you’re presented with spectacular views of the badlands and valley below. I decided to enter the valley below, which was quite steep and somewhat slippery due to the smooth and dry bentonite below by feet. Once I got to the bottom I followed the valley’s until I found a small dry riverbed that led towards the Lower Red Deer River. During my hike I found quite a few fragments of fossils and some bones from animals. One thing to note is there are some sections of private land here, so be respectful of the land.

Be sure to check back in a few days when I embark on a week trip to Eastern Europe. My first stop is Zagreb, Croatia.

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