Wednesday, 7 June 2017

Springtime in the Rockies. . . And a Corvette


We have been on one-day cruises with some of the Central Alberta Corvette enthusiasts but this was to be an entirely new experience.  This was to be an overnight jaunt with people from across Alberta, the vast majority of whom we were not familiar with.  I'm always up for meeting new people and for a first time experience, I have to say it's going to be a hard one to beat. Suffice to say, it was a darn good group of folks we were mingling with.   We met people from every walk of life but many of us were in retirement and those that weren't could clearly envision it just around the corner and even seemed to be licking their lips in eager anticipation.  That is not to say younger blood would not be welcomed; I think it has more to do with the amount of expendable cash and time, more than anything else.  In general, people were pretty friendly and it didn't take long before barbs and digs were flying around, followed by peels of laughter. . . so you know we had a good time, right!

While I don't think Eric has ever considered me to be high maintenance, I feel confident in saying that I am nowhere near as high maintenance as the other woman in his life.  Not only does Ginger take up a whole lot of space in the Man Cave, she doesn't need a special invitation to enter.  And whenever she leaves it, she heads straight for the spa where she is lovingly stroked by her man. . . do I sound like a jealous wife?  I'm really not, but perhaps that's because I know where Eric sleeps at night and it's not in the Man Cave. . . at least not so far.

It was one of those typical Alberta weekends that no one knew for sure what the weather would be but there was definitely some rain in our forecast.  If you are like me, and not really a true blue car enthusiast, you might not realize that rain can be considered a significant threat.  Frankly, I don't understand the point of owning a fair weather vehicle but I understand that there are those that feel quite differently and I respect that.  At any rate, we either struck it lucky or someone was doing some heavy duty praying to the Rain Gods; while we saw our share of clouds and, for most of us, it wasn't really a top down kind of weekend, we arrived back home Sunday afternoon high and dry.



We were all up bright and early, but those of us from Central Alberta had it pretty easy since the muster point was on the north side of Red Deer, with a second point at Rocky Mountain House.  


Those coming from Edmonton and Calgary were on the road bright and early and one couple from Hinton earlier yet. But everyone seemed to be in good spirits as we gathered 'round with coffee in hand, to introduce ourselves to attend our driver's meeting.  After a brief stop in Rocky to refuel and connect with a few more Corvette enthusiasts we were off!  



We stopped first at Abraham Lake, giving everyone an opportunity to stretch their legs, meet a few more people and, of course, the perfect location for a photo op.  We were 23 corvettes strong, which equated to about 45 people.  While the men were discussing things like coupe vs. convertible, generation and engine size, the women were more likely discussing the myriad color variations:  it wasn't merlot, it was Long Beach Red; it's not simply orange, but Daytona Sunsrise.  And the blues. . . oh the songs I could sing about Laguna Blue vs Admiral Blue. . . My point is, even though most of the women do not have the same love affair with their car as their men, we still admire them, in our own but clearly different way.

We arrived at the Crossing about 2pm where our organizers had arranged for us to park and have lunch at the Parkway Pub where diners are invited to cook their own steak, burger or dog.  We were lazy; nobody felt like cooking so our table we opted for the already made chili.


We were off, once again, arriving at our overnight destination at the Lake Louise Inn. The Inn had parking reserved for our group and were ready and willing to check us in.  Eric and I were more than happy with our accommodation and, considering we were in the mountains at the start of tourist season, pleasantly surprised by the reasonable prices for food and lodging.  I need to give my man a little extra credit though; he booked our room early and chose to upgrade to a Deluxe King room.  Many of those that booked late had no recourse but to take what remained; between tossing, turning and hot flashes, not everyone had a restful sleep in their double bed. But now we know, and it's only one night, right?  


The evening gave us a chance to get better acquainted with some of our travel partners and, I dare say, more than a few friendships began to blossom.  There are several couples I know we are looking forward to taking a future run with. 

After a hearty Sunday morning breakfast, we were back on the road again, headed for Moraine Lake.  At an elevation of 1883 metres, the lake is only beginning to thaw in early June but, even on a cool, cloudy day, one can't help but be smitten by the beauty of this literal jewel in the heart of the Rocky Mountains.


And here's a little tidbit of information I bet you didn't know. While Moraine Lake and the Valley of the Ten Peaks is more than a million dollar view, it is often referred to as the Twenty Dollar View because it graced Canada's $20 bills from 1969 to 1979.  It's also one of the most photographed spots in the Rockies, don't you know!

The group then carried on to Banff and Tunnel Mountain and I have it on good advice that the Corvettes continued to attract the same amount of attention as they did everywhere we travelled. How do I know this? Facebook told me so, when one of my friends commented on being in Banff and seeing this rare spectacle.  

Because of our other commitments, we bypassed Banff and made our way home but not without stopping at the McDougall Church, at Morley. Built in 1875 by Reverend George McDougall, during a period of discontent among the First Nations population, the Morely mission was received with mixed feelings. Many welcomed the arrival of missionaries while others were less receptive. 


A designated Provincial Historic Resource, representing a story of human endeavor, courage and inter-racial cooperation, it was destroyed by fire only a few short weeks ago.  There is a Spring Commemorative Event planned for June 11th at 3pm and funds are already being raised for rebuilding through 
https://www.gofundme.com/Rebuild-Mcdougall-Church

And here I will end my little diatribe.  While I was simply a passenger enjoying the weekend to the fullest, it took time and effort to make our journey together a pleasant one.  Thank you to Paul, Brian and others for organizing and coordinating this event. You did an awesome job!  Thank you to the people who took time from busy schedules to come out and and play this weekend.  While Corvettes may be what brought us together, we found other common ground from which to build friendships upon.  

While this photo epitomizes one couple's sentiments about their Corvette, I suspect it speaks for many of us about our weekend joyride.  Until we meet again. . .





 Resources:
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Abraham_Lake
https://thecrossingresort.com/parkway-pub/
http://www.lakelouiseinn.com/
http://banffandbeyond.com/the-lake-with-the-twenty-dollar-view-moraine-lake/
http://www.mcdougallstoneymission.com/about.php
http://www.mcdougallstoneymission.com/newsletters/2017/spring.pdf












Tuesday, 30 May 2017

Eating Well in the Crowsnest

Remember my blog about all the cool things we found to do in the Crowsnest Pass?  No? Perhaps this will refresh your memory:  https://hpdsinc.blogspot.ca/2017/04/secrets-of-crowsnest.html.  One of the other things we did was eat. . . a lot. . . and really really well! We planned on having a few meals out but, honestly, we enjoyed our own cooking so much we chose staying in!  Here are the recipes.

Wicked Thai Chicken Soup
1 tbs vegetable oil
1/2 red bell pepper, diced
4 c. chicken stock
2 tbs lemon grass herb paste
1 tsp worcestershire sauce
1/2 c. high quality coconut milk
1 1/2 tsp chili paste or sriracha
1 tb. cornstarch
1/2 c finely chopped onion
1 1/2 c sliced mushrooms
2 diced chicken breasts
1 tsp fish sauce (optional)
1 c half & half (10%) cream
2 tsp red curry paste
2-3 tb. tomato paste to taste
2 c cooked rice
Fresh cilantro, parsley or shredded green onion for garnish

Saute mushrooms in 1 tbs. oil.  Remove to a plate.  In the same pot, add remaining 1 tb. oil, onion, red pepper and saute.  Return mushrooms, add broth and chicken and heat.  Add lemon grass paste, fish sauce and worcestershire sauce and simmer for about 5 minutes. Add coconut milk, turn heat to low, cover and simmer for 2 minutes.  In a small bowl, add curry paste, tomato paste, sriracha, 2 tbs. water and cornstarch and mix until incorporated. Stir into soup until combined and summer until it thickens very slightly and has a velvety appearance.  Add cooked rice, cover and simmer for 5 minutes.  Taste and season with salt and pepper.  Garnish with cilantro, parsley or shredded green onion strips and serve with additional hot sauce for those who prefer a hotter soup.  Serves 8 (or 4 hungry people).
Notes from the cook (Mary Jane Porter Morrison):  I add 2 garlic cloves to onion and red pepper.  Always use a good quality coconut milk, such as Thai Kitchen.  It comes in a tetra pak or can.  You may need to stir it very well before using it as it can separate.  You only need a half cup for this recipe but it can be frozen in portions.  Use a fine grater on the lemon grass if you use the plant.



Lemongrass Chicken 
Secret Saute:
8 boneless chicken thighs or breasts (it's good with beef too)
1/4 c minced lemongrass, fresh or frozen
2 shallots or 1/4 onion, sliced
4 garlic cloves
1 - 2 fresh red chilies, sliced or 1/2 - 1 tsp cayenne pepper, to taste
1 thumb-sized piece galagal or ginger, thinly sliced
1/2 tsp tumeric
2 tbsp. ground coriander
2 tsp cumin
3 tbsp. dark soy sauce
3 tbsp. fish sauce (optional)
6 tbsp. grown sugar
2 tbsp vegetable oil
Peanut sauce for dipping

Place all marinade ingredients in a food processor or chopper and process well.  Marinade meat for at least 2 hours or longer. Serve with Coconut Rice.

Notes from the Cook (Jane Friesen):  Meat can also be frozen in the marinade; and it's best on the BBQ or broiled.  

Coconut Rice
1.5 cups basmati rice
1 - 400 ml can coconut milk
250 ml chicken broth


Pulled Pork Sandwich

1 tsp vegetable oil
4 lbs. pork shoulder roast
1/2 c apple cider vinegar
1/2 c chicken broth
1/4 c brown sugar
1 tbsp mustard powder
1 tbsp worcestershire sauce
1 tbsp chili powder
1 large onion chopped
2 large garlic cloves, crushed
1.5 tsp dried thyme



Mix all ingredients into a slow cooker and cook on high for a minimum of 5 hours or until pork will easily shred using two forks.  Once shredded, continue to cook for at least another hour.  Serve on hamburger or other style of large bun.  

Notes from the cook (me):  This recipe is very forgiving.  I use various types of vinegar, including balsamic or red wine vinegar.  Depending on who I'm making it for, you can also add heat, with any variety of hot sauces, or by adding hot chili peppers.  I usually make it with a side of coleslaw which some people add as a topping to the sandwich.

And now you have it!  ENJOY!

Monday, 15 May 2017

Travelling with the Sisterhood - Manhattan, NYC


Last fall, I was invited to join the Facebook group, 'Girls In New York City'. Inspired by a previous trip some 19 years ago, some friends from Canada's East Coast decided they were overdue for a repeat performance.  As it turned out, their timing coincided perfectly with my initiation into retirement and a commitment to myself via my bucket list to see more of the world and spend more time with the women in my life.


Eventually, the group narrowed down to five savvy women and, yes, I'm counting myself in that demographic.   I was more than a little curious--one might even say a tad apprehensive--about how I would fare on this adventure. My two primary concerns were whether I  would enjoy the constant exposure of four other human beings over five days; and, as much as I love women, we can be pretty intense at times.  I also wasn't sure how I would handle the sensory overload that is NYC.  I am a prairie farm girl, after all and, if that in itself, doesn't suggest copious amounts of 'alone time', I've been running a home business as its sole employee for the past 11 years!   



At about the same time I realized our little travel group had an abundance of strong personalities, it also became apparent that there were diverging interests.  We found agreement on some of the key items such as what part of Manhattan we wanted to stay in and what Broadway show we should book.   As I was in charge of booking accommodations, I admit a moment or two of panic when my travelling companion received a text suggesting that my choice was dangerously less than satisfactory (emphasis on dangerous).  We soon realized the hoax when the the following order was to arrive with food and more wine, tagged with a photo of a building that was clearly not where we were staying. It seems we had at least one, if not three, pranksters in our midst!

Admittedly, there were a few times when our individual passions were surpassed only by the copious amount of wine consumed but, honestly, I thought we did amazingly well, considering we had five women, two bedrooms and only one bathroom. . . and did I mention, lots and lots of passion?  Evenings were filled with lively debate and peels of belly laughs and I really couldn't imagine this trip with any other group of women.  Okay, it's true, I loved every single moment of it!

As I had agreed to sleep on the pullout couch in the living-room, I was grateful to see that, while not exactly private, there was some semblance of separation. I'm not particularly shy about my body and, while I tried to maintain at least some modesty for the sake of my room mates, the pretense of a waist high bookcase masquerading as a privacy screen only goes so far.  To my knowledge, no one went home permanently damaged from the full impact of  all or part of my naked body first thing in the morning.  Overall, we were pleased with our clean, comfortable, and perfectly located home-away-from-home, literally steps away from Times Square, the Port Authority and a number of other NYC highlights. If you don't believe me, 52 traveler reviews rate it 4.8/5.  And here's the best part:  there's also a second one-bedroom unit, perfect for a couple or someone traveling with a small child.   AND, there's a jewelry business on the main floor where you can make purchases! If you want to know more, check out the links below.
Our first day in the City we decided we would do the Hop On, Hop Off Bus. . . BIG MISTAKE! Perhaps we should have caught on shortly after we left the condo, when the pouring rain turned to a veritable onslaught of rain, requiring both rain coats and umbrellas, and leaving them both leaking. . . but we didn't.  Perhaps we should have realized we had made a poor choice when we found ourselves slogging through water more than 100mm deep, but we didn't.  Or, perhaps when our jeans were so thoroughly soaked that they literally wicked water up our thighs, soaking us through to the skin; but we didn't.  The dead giveaway was when a dozen or so cell phones went off mid-tour announcing flood warnings throughout Manhattan and NYC.  Suffice to say, the day was a wash, in more ways than one.  While it may not have been raining on the bus, we were definitely not warm, as there seemed to be an aversion to turning on the heaters.  And because there was no heat, the windows fogged up, which meant no visibility.  True, it was not our best decision but we did much better after that.

Everyone was really excited about going to see a Broadway performance. . . everyone, that is, except me. I honestly had no idea what to expect, and therefore, I had no real expectations and, without expectations, it was unlikely I would be disappointed.  I thought it might be good and I knew the talent would be great, if only because one of my travelling sisters is, herself, an actress as well as a trusted friend.  She chose 'Waitress' which I wasn't familiar with, nor was I familiar with the music.  When she excitedly announced that Sara Bareilles had the lead. . . the name meant nothing.  When she directed us to Sara's recent pop hit on U-tube. . . still nothing. But truth be told, I was harboring a wee bit of resentment because the show I really wanted to see what 'Beautiful', based on Carol King's early career. . . and who could possibly not love Tapestry?  Why, I could sing the entire album if they would only let me!  Fortunately, I was not alone in that desire so a decision was made to split up.  Three of us went to 'Beautiful' while two went to see 'The Glass Menagerie' with none other than Sally Field!  Not only did they see Sally perform, they met her too! That, in itself, was a heady experience for them.


I have to say, we were all wowed by our choices and honestly, I couldn't quite imagine how 'Waitress' was going to beat 'Beautiful' but the following night we marched our way into a kilometre long lineup to see Sara Bareilles in the lead and, once again, I was totally amazed and impressed.  A Broadway show is more than just a defining element of NYC, the caliber of every aspect of the production from musicianship, acting, set design, stage lighting, even the theatre itself, is awe-inspiring.  The sets were so slick, I'm still trying to figure out how they so gracefully and seamlessly moved on and off the stage.

We booked a walking tour through Harlem Heritage Tours, where all guides are born, raised and still live in Harlem. I was hoping for one of the old men that I read often guided but instead we got the youngest guide, Neal Shoemaker.  We soon found ourselves seated in the Canaan Baptist Church singing and clapping and generally having a great time.  We weren't allowed to take photos, and this video doesn't even begin to typify the sound reverberating from the choir, but it will give you a good idea of the experience which we all loved.

It wasn't long before we discovered that Neal was really showing us his Harlem, starting with the projects he grew up in and where his mother continues to live to this day.  He made no secret that there was a time when Harlem was a pretty harsh environment to be growing up in but the Harlem he showcased was anything but.  It was evident that our guide was well known and respected and true to the lyrics of the song, everybody really did know his name! There are myriad tours to fit everyone through this group; if I were to go back, I think I would sign up for a Harlem Jazz Tour.  Neal brings to life the ambiance of that which is Harlem and Harlem strikes me as a pretty talented place.  He doesn't gloss over its history; he openly admits that, while tourism is one of the ways by which Harlem's profile can be elevated, there is also the potential of its destruction as it is slowly but surely transitioning as Manhattan's up and coming community. 



While gentrification may save the brick and mortar of a community, it can be devastating to its character as it displaces low income minority, long time residents.  In Neal's words:  "With each passing day I realize another way in which Cultural Tourism can be used as a double-edged magic wand to expose visitors to the authentic lifestyle of local residents and improve the quality of life for the overall host community – Harlem.  When balanced properly the possibilities are endless – this is what excites the good folks at the Harlem Heritage Tourism and Cultural Center"  It's all about that uneasy balance.

One of the last items on our to-do list was an NBC tour.  We originally tried to get tickets to Jimmy Fallon but, as they were sold out, this was the next best thing. Enjoyed by all, we had a chance to air our own little ditty, which gave us plenty of reasons to laugh at ourselves.  

While Times Square, Broadway and Harlem were highlights of my trip, there were other aspects of NYC that caught me off guard.  I can easily see why people want to return over and over and over again.  

First of all, the architecture is nothing short of stunning . . . everywhere. . . even in structures that have not yet made a full transition. Change is definitely in the wind.





I also discovered I have a fascination for all of the fire escapes.  Where I am accustomed to seeing one or two for each floor, as far as I can make out, there appears to be one for each unit and they really do become part of the living space.  

In every area that we visited, there were numerous churches.  While religious organizations have a role to play in the social fabric of any community, it seems to me that they are vital in many communities throughout the USA as a stopgap for those who might otherwise fall through the cracks.  Neal certainly impressed upon us their importance in Harlem.





Manhattan is not only packed with things to do, it's packed with people! Its population of more than 1.6 million is squeezed into only 59 square kilometres, making for a whopping 28,000 +/- people per square kilometer! In other words, it's a busy little place!  Before our arrival, I read that it was ill-advised to chat local New Yorkers up; that in order to live in such close proximity, a natural coping mechanism is to virtually ignore those around us and carry on about our business as if we were alone. Perhaps that's true. . . but I'm one of those people that chats everybody up. . . and I don't need a special invitation to do it!    It didn't take me long to discover that New Yorkers are just as friendly as the rest of the people I've met in the world.    When we stopped for a New York hot dog, we found ourselves being served up by an aspiring comedian.



When we were lost on the subway, people volunteered to help and those that didn't readily offered advise when asked . . . except a couple of folks who actually worked in the subway. . . we decided that they were simply unhappy in their occupation or, perhaps suffered from Seasonal Affective Disorder from working underground to long.  When I needed help getting to the box office of Waitress (with permission) I latched onto the sleave of two passerbys and they happily hauled me right along with them.  And one of New York's finest was quite happy to accept a scratch behind the ear. . . the horse, not the man. 

As you might imagine, we ran out of time before accomplishing everything on our bucket list but that's not such a bad thing.  Now I understand why so many people continue to be drawn back to the Big Apple time and again. While I may be able to cross off NYC on my bucket list, it seems I need to add some specifics to it.  It's a big city and I'm told each of the five burrows has its own distinct personality; perhaps each one deserves it's own separate little mini-vacation.

As for travelling with the sisterhood, would I do it again?  In a New York minute! Perhaps we'll see you there!


Resources:   
https://www.homeaway.ca/cottage-rental/p3522881?uni_id=3510551
http://www.michalgolan.com/
http://avax.news/fact/Simply_Some_Photos_Under_an_Umbrella_Part_9.html
http://beautifulonbroadway.com/ 
http://www.harlemheritage.com/
http://www.harlemheritage.com/2011/01/23/harlem-heritage-tours-lots-can-be-done-through-cultural-tourism/



Wednesday, 26 April 2017

Secrets of the Crowsnest


In the southwest corner of Alberta,there's a corner of the world filled with intrigue, natural beauty and, for some, more than a little sadness.   During our early Spring visit, we found the often understated but unmistakable treasures this community has to offer to be a perfect fit for our girlfriend getaway. Steeped in history, wildlife and nature, there is plenty to do and see for all ages.



We were fortunate that one of our group has spent some time exploring the Crowsnest; not only was she able to offer up some great suggestions on places to stay and things to do, she connected us to one of the 'locals' who kindly filled in any blanks and offered a few suggestions of her own.  While the secret to a successful trip doesn't necessarily hinge on having someone who knows the area, it certainly doesn't hurt!


We knew we had started off on the right foot when we landed at our home-away-from-home. A Safe Haven, in Coleman, provided a comfortable, modern vacation home which we were thrilled to find spotlessly clean and well appointed and providing stunning views of what I later learned is the backside of Turtle Mountain, better known for its part in the Frank Slide disaster.  We couldn't possibly have been more comfortable in this three bedroom, two bath home which sleeps 12. Although the plan was to eat only a few meals in, we found ourselves enjoying our cozy accommodations and the supplies we packed to be perfectly contented making our own meals augmented by a large selection of coffee, tea, spices and daily condiments provided by our hosts.  Because we want them to do well, we're sharing this little secret too.  It was absolutely perfect and I highly recommend it for groups of friends or family, large or small.  You'll find the link at the bottom of the page.


The Crowsnest Pass, made up of the communities of Blairmore, Bellevue, Coleman, Hillcrest and Frank, offers a genuine mountain lifestyle.  While inhabited only by First Nations Peoples for centuries, large quantities of coal was discovered in the mid-1800s, though the first resource to be developed was actually lumber.  The Canadian Pacific Railway built a line in the late 1890s, at which time the CPR sought and received funding from the Federal Government partially in exchange for a freight subsidy on prairie farm exports.  Here's a little tidbit I learned about a well known phrase to the Prairie Provinces:  the subsidy agreement was known as "the Crow Rate' and was eventually extended to all railway lines in western Canada.  Who knew?  


All the mines in the Crowsnest were closed by the end of the 20th century as cheaper and safer open-pit mines opened. Some logging and oil and gas exploitation continues in the area, and a sulphur plant has been in operation for several years but tourism remains underdeveloped.  I'll let you in on a second secret: if you desire an experience akin to that of Canmore or Jasper, but less developed and at more moderate prices, the Crowsnest is your 'go to' place.

After a wonderful dinner in (thanks to Jane) we headed off to the Pass Pottery Club Sale in Coleman where Jane found a few pieces calling her to take them home.  She said they were gifts but, by the level of her excitement, we aren't convinced they will be gifted anytime soon. Secret Number Three:  when in the Crowsnest, don't forget to tap into the many opportunities the local art community offers.The Crowsnest Pass Public Art Gallery is also worth a stop, as you will find fine art and crafts from over 50 local and area artists at the Gallery Gift Store.

The weather was a wee bit 'iffy' so we decided to start by soaking up some of the local history and culture.  At the Crowsnest Museum, we learned all about Emporer Pick.   Emilio Picariello was an Italian bootlegger who immigrated to Canada in 1899.  This industrious fellow worked as an electrician, laborer, grocer, in a macaroni factory, and began a cigar business.  He also manufactured ice cream, where he often accepted payment in bottles, eventually achieving a monopoly on the bottle market, and earning him a reputation as the 'bottle king'.  During Prohibition, Picariello  purchased the Alberta Hotel in Blairmore as his base of operations, where he excavated a room under the hotel and dug a tunnel from it out to the road to benefit his bootlegging enterprise. Picariello was well respected by the community, an elected alderman of Blairmore and often praised for his philanthropic ways.  He distributed food to needy families and money to miners while on strike.  


Picariello eventually crossed paths with Filumena (Florence) Costanzo who became a partner in his bootlegging activities. I'm not going to ruin it for you but you should know that these two made history in a Bonnie and Clyde sort of way that is anything but boring.   This particular story is soon to receive it's very own permanent display but the museum also hosts a mining room; general store and blacksmith shop; pioneer room; military/police gallery and wildlife room, not to mention, there's also a nice little gift shop. Secret Number Four:  there's no better place to learn about the history of a community than by visiting its museum.




A wee bit off the beaten track, but definitely worth the stop, is the Hillcrest Memorial and Cemetery. The Memorial is not only a tribute to those who lost their lives in the Hillcrest Mines but in all mines throughout Canada.  On June 19, 1914, 235 men entered the mine, 189 of whom lost their lives.  Only 17 were from Canada, and 2 from Alberta.  This was not the only mine in the Crowsnest where lives were lost; there was an explosion at Hillcrest in 1926 where two men lost their lives and eight other incidents in various mines throughout the Pass accounting for the loss of an addition 227 men. This valley holds more than its share of grief. Secret Number Five: never take life for granted.

Depending on the level of activity you desire, the Crowsnest Community Trail is a 23 km. non-motorized route that connects all five communities in the Pass as well as local businesses and historical sites, such as the Frank Slide Interpretive Centre and the Bellevue Underground Mine.  If mountain biking is your passion, maps are available at the links below to Powderkeg Mountain Bike Trails and the professionally designed Bike Skills Park.




We chose to work our way along Miners Path, the historic route taken by Coleman miners on their way to work.  This relaxing and easy trail begins in Coleman and follows Nez Perce Creek to Rainbow Falls.  There is also a branch where a bridge crosses the creek and leads up to the old McGillivray Mine site which still has remnants of a bygone coal mining era.  It's well marked and well used.  Secret Number Six:  Find out where the locals like to go and you won't be disappointed if you follow them.


Sadly, we were also introduced to the Cinnamon Bear Bakery and Cafe, where we gorged on lattes, chai tea and some of the best treats I have had in some time.  It even has it's own Facebook Page! If you have an incurable sweet tooth, you will no doubt find a way to soothe it here.  If you're wondering why I say 'sadly', it's because we stopped on the way home too. . . my hips will never be the same. Secret Number Seven:  if you stop at the Cinnamon Bear, you may as well make it worth your while. . . don't stop at one treat. . . have a few!


We also spent a goodly amount of time at the Frank Slide Interpretive Center.  I visited a few years back with a large group, and didn't spend the time needed to watch a 30 minute reenactment of the disaster or the following 25 minute presentation of the history of the Crowsnest.  Both are very well done, extremely informative and time flies.  It was also nice to have the time to poke around the exhibits as well as walk a couple of the many trails offered.  Secret Number Eight:  If you decide to walk the trails, make sure you pick up a guide at the kiosk.  82 million tonnes (30 million cubic metres) is a lot of limestone to ponder when you don't know what you're looking at. 


If camping is your thing, you're in luck! There's a provincial campground a short walk from the beautiful Lundbreck Falls. While the cascades may not be huge, they are surprisingly picturesque and if you happen to be a fisherman, I'm told if you follow the water you'll find great spots for rainbow and cutthroat and perhaps even a dip in quieter waters.  We found a marmot and were totally happy with that.  Secret Number Nine:  always keep your eyes open for wildlife.


Hopefully, I've provided you with a enough tips on visiting the Crowsnest Pass, to catch your fancy but, honestly, this tenth and final secret is golden, perhaps because it's not really a secret at all. Whenever you decide to explore the Crowsnest Pass, make sure you do it in the company of someone you cherish, be it friend or family. That way, you can be guaranteed a great time.

Sources:

http://www.asafehaven.ca/

http://www.crowsnestpass.com/tourism
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Crowsnest_Pass
http://www.crowsnestpass.com/tourism/what-to-do/trails
https://www.facebook.com/pages/Cinnamon-Bear/183385111681477
http://www.crowsnestheritage.ca/history/hillcrest/


Wednesday, 4 January 2017

Yoga and Other New Year Resolutions

I'm not big on making New Year's resolutions but the beginning of a New Year does give us a chance to reflect on the challenges and accomplishments over the past year and consider what we want to change about our lives.  I've always been one to preach about walking the talk and I speak often about my imaginary friend, the Bucket List, usually in reference to places I would like to travel.  But a bucket list is not about travel, it's about being.  It's about all those dreams you dreamed over the years, picking through them and choosing the ones that are important. . . really important. . . no matter how large or small.

2017 is a pivotal year for me.  I finished school and went to work shortly after my 17th birthday. Over the past 40 years my career has given me a lot to think about and be grateful for.  It has also given me a slap upside the head on more than one occasion.  Like so many others, somewhere along the way, I lost myself and began living to work instead of working to live.  I found myself turning into someone I didn't really like;  even though I loved my profession, I found myself spending FAR too much time doing the bidding of others and not being true to myself.  I remember a friend telling me that I had 'pointy edges' and, while I acknowledged this was true, I had no idea what to do about it.  And so I buried myself further into 'the work', thinking that, the more I gave, the more I would get in return.  And eventually, it did.  After serving an organization to the best of my ability for more than 25 years, I was given a big bag of money and told to leave.  Did it hurt?  You bet it did  but there is nothing like a huge hit to the Ego to make one sit up and take stalk of one's life.  



I decided to start my own business, be my own boss.  Yes, there were naysayers but, more importantly, there were those that lined up behind me in support.  I might not have been so brave had not my partner asked one simple question . . . 'What are you going to do now?'  That statement said so many things, not the least of which was that he expected me to pick myself up, dust myself off, and move on with my life.  And so I did.  I may not have had the salaried security that I was so accustomed to but I have so much more: the freedom to choose who I worked for and I can honestly say, I have never had to sacrifice my professional convictions since I became my own boss. I can also honestly say that I have had fabulous clients! I have the freedom to set my own hours which paid off in spades when I needed to turn my attention to family during those difficult but oh-so-rewarding years of seeing my aging parents through to the end.  I have often said I love my boss and that is a definite truism.  Having my own business returned my confidence and re-established my own self-worth. And now, it is giving me the chance to slowly wind the business down, and time to adjust to building a life aside from work.  Today, I have a single client and, when our journey together is done, so am I. It's time to start a new chapter.



And the first thing on it is to re-evaluate that bucket. . . 43 items on The List and still growing!  #1 is choosing a word for the year.  I had not heard of this until a friend mentioned it on Facebook. Her word for 2017 is 'relevant'. I'm still toying with my word but I think it's going to be 'challenge'. I think I've been a bit complacent about life and it's time to step out of my comfort zone and challenge myself a little more.

#2 on The List is to start a 'joy jar'.  It goes by many names. . . gratitude jar, happiness jar. . . I'm sure you get  my drift. The idea is to put a little something down on paper to remind yourself of something that happened that made you smile, created joy.  At the end of your year, revisit the jar and remind yourself of these joyful events.  You decide how often you want to put something in the jar; if you are a little OCD, you will have a mental calendar prepared before you even get your jar decorated.  If you're a bit of a pessimist at heart, or perhaps a procrastinator, you might want to set some guidelines for yourself such as adding something every week of the year.  Surely, everyone has something to smile about at least once a week, right? Remember!  Glass half-full!


The third thing on The List is going on a girl trip.  I used to do this a lot but it seems to have dwindled down to nothingness.  I must be started on the right foot because I have TWO trips currently in the works. . .and one is even booked. . .EEK!   baby steps in terms of challenging, perhaps but it's on The List!  Oh, and bout that yoga, I've just started a 31-day Free On-Line Yoga Challenge (#43, my bucket list is not in order of priority)  If you're interested in following suit, here's the link:
http://yogawithadriene.com/revolution-day-1/

Don't worry, I've got some grandiose plans too, like participating in a Holi Festival (maybe I'll even host one), going on an African Safari, building a straw bale 'something' (even if it's a chicken coop!).  I've even got some personal goals on The List that will be a personal challenge, but the biggest, most important one of all on The List is #25, growing old with the one I love.  There's aspects about #25 that I can control but there are just as many that I can't and to a control freak like me, perhaps that's the most challenging one of all.  Wish me well.