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The last breakfast

Calgary, Canada

Our last breakfast was one to remember: our hosts cooked us up bacon, eggs, pancakes, fresh muffins and pastries and, oddly, a flower. The other couple staying at the B&B promised us a 'Surprise' if we ate the flowers...sure enough, while the petals and stalk tasted like lettuce, the centre was peppery and HOT.

As I said, you can never have too many hot Springs, so on our way back to Calgary we stopped off at Whiteswan (also known as Lussier) hot Springs, quite a ways up a Mountain. Rylan was very secretive about them, so I wasn't quite expecting natural hot Spring pools located next to a cold running River surrounded by Mountains. Or the overwhelming sulphurous smell of rotten eggs.

Our penultimate stop on our route home involved a walk beside a bright blue River running through a canyon that grew deeper and deeper the closer we got to the falls at the top.

Finally, we stopped in Banff so that I could stock up on cheesy Canadian t-shirts. Banff really is a very touristy place - I'm not entirely sure why people visit the Rocky Mountains only to stay in Banff. Soon, it was time to leave the Mountains altogether and return to Calgary.

Back at the Alston's, we feasted on spicy goat curry, deer sausage, and our newly-acquired ice wine served in little chocolate cups. We ended my trip as we'd started, with a freak thunderstorm and a Tim Minchin DVD in the home cinema.

permalink written by  lucy3119 on August 23, 2012 from Calgary, Canada
from the travel blog: Canada and a little USA 2012
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To Eldorado!

New Denver, Canada

On our way to Kimberley and our second B&B, we stopped at New Denver, a brilliant little town of colourful clapboard houses and stunning Mountain views, once known as Eldorado City in its mining days. We were searching for the Nikkei Internment Memorial Centre, where Japanese Canadians were interned during WW2, but a wrong turning unexpectedly took us to a scenic beach. When travelling, sometimes the best things are unplanned!

We eventually found the internment camp, which was interesting, particularly since I had studied the novels of Joy Kogawa, a Japanese Canadian interned during the war. We then headed back to New Denver's mainstreet for lunch - it was fun seeing how everybody seemed to know each other in such a small town!

We made it to our second B&B at a more reasonable time than the night before, and the welcoming proprietors recommended us some places to eat. We ended up at the Old Bauernhaus Restaurant, a log barn moved from Germany to Kimberley, serving traditional German food. Naturally, I had schnitzel and strudel.

Our room at the West Winds B&B was gorgeous, with a unique patchwork quilt covered in Canadian animals, from bears to moose. It took a lot of willpower not to smuggle it out of there in my bag the following morning.

permalink written by  lucy3119 on August 22, 2012 from New Denver, Canada
from the travel blog: Canada and a little USA 2012
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"Welcome to the U.S.Eh!"

Vernon, Canada

We spent another morning on the beach at Ellison Provincial Park before packing up camp and setting out for Kaslo, and our B&B.

For some reason, we ended up taking a route that was twice as long as the one originally planned...although, admittedly, it was a beautiful route. We drove very close to the Canadian/USA border, experiencing ranches and frontier-style towns, complete with clapboard houses and saloons. We spotted a sign with the brilliant message, "Welcome to the U.S.Eh!" It's nice to know Canadians can make fun of themselves, not to mention their relations with the USA!

During the entire trip I'd been mentioning that I wished I had a cowboy hat (particularly for our epic horseback trek up a Mountain), but I wasn't expecting Rylan to pull up at a ranch selling riding gear and ask to see their selection of cowboy hats..!
Below: the cowboy hat plus other cheesy Canadian attire...

We got near to Kaslo much later than we'd anticipated but, because of the route we'd taken, we came across Ainsworth Hot Springs and decided to stop for some relaxation (you can never have too many hot springs!) and dinner. The hot springs themselves are reached by swimming inside a cave: it's ridiculously hot and stuffy inside, but there's also an icy cold plunge pool and an outdoor pool for some relief from the heat! Ainsworth Hot Springs are attached to a hotel, so we decided to eat in the hotel's restaurant. I had a fantastic creme brulee.

We arrived at our B&B around 10pm, the owners seeming a bit confused as to why we'd taken so long. Our B&B was a great place, remote, hand-built in wood and with only one guest room.

permalink written by  lucy3119 on August 21, 2012 from Vernon, Canada
from the travel blog: Canada and a little USA 2012
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Still alive...I think

Vernon, Canada

Today, w left the luxury of the House at Kelowna and headed to Ellison Provincial Park for another night of camping. On the way, we stopped at the Log Barn, a very corny shop selling food and gifts run by Mennonites. We picked up some beef jerky, fruit and taffy, posed with a stuffed black bear and watched goats cross 'Dave's goat walk', a walkway bizarrely suspended across the carpark.

We made it to Ellison and, after putting up the tent, we spent the afternoon and early evening at the beach.

Rylan told me about a rock that you could jump off into the lake, so we decided to give it a go. In the dark. Of course, we scouted out the route to The Rock beforehand, spotting a chipmunk behaving in a very odd way, jumping up and down, spinning and rolling around. Suspecting some form of chipmunk rabies, we made a hasty exit.

As darkness fell, we made our way back to The Rock with the aid of torches and, after making Rylan go first to prove that I wasn't, as I suspected, at risk of death, and then dithering for at least another 10 minutes, I jumped.

I'm still alive. I think.

permalink written by  lucy3119 on August 20, 2012 from Vernon, Canada
from the travel blog: Canada and a little USA 2012
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Supposedly relaxing and "aren't Canadians nice, eh?" take two

Kelowna, Canada

Another supposedly "relaxing" day with an unexpected turn of events. The day began relaxing enough, with a lie-in followed by a tour of some of the Okanagan valley's wineries. We tasted and we bought, including the super sweet ice wine, a Canadian speciality. I like sweet wine, but ice wine is a whole new level of sweet. We stopped for a tapas lunch at the Little Straw winery, my personal favourite, with stunning views over the lush wine country.

On the way home, our day became a little less relaxing when Rylan casually drove into a ditch. Stuck, we managed to summon the owner of the driveway we'd got stuck on. He wasn't impressed: he'd just had his asphalt done. He wasn't able to help us as his tow cable was in his other truck; however, a family in a 4x4 took pity on us and pulled over, then generously offered to go home, pick up their tow rope, and come back. We felt absolutely terrible when, on their return, the weight of our truck snapped both of their ropes. Just as we were beginning to despair, a man across the road appeared at his door and offered us a chain. This was also a spectacular act of kindness considering that he was attached to a drip at the time. Luckily, the chain was enough to pull our truck out of the ditch, although the brand new asphalt hadn't fared too well. In a final act of kindness, the owner of the driveway, who had originally warned us that we'd have to pay for any damage to his new asphalt, told us not to worry about it after all.

Aren't Canadians nice, eh?

Our evening was much more relaxing: we lay by the pool in the garden overlooking Okanagan lake and the valley; we barbecued Chicken; we witnessed a beautiful sunset and lazed in the hottub. Perfect!

permalink written by  lucy3119 on August 19, 2012 from Kelowna, Canada
from the travel blog: Canada and a little USA 2012
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You can lead a horse to water

Lumby, Canada

We were up at 6am for our day of horse riding in Lumby, BC. We arrived at the Silver Spurs Wilderness Ranch for 9am and spent some time getting the horses and ourselves kitted out (I got to steal our guide's son's new cowboy boots because my own shoes didn't have a big enough heel for the stirrups).

We then headed out on our 7 to 8 hour ride up a mountain to a lake and back again. At this point I discovered that, when Rylan originally booked our trek, even the guides themselves had tried to persuade him to opt for the 5 hour ride instead. He insisted. They gave in. I began to think this might be a bad idea.

Things were fine until lunch time. The horses were very familiar with the steep, uphill trail: all we had to do was lean forwards and leave the work to them. My horse, Diamond, preferred to canter up the steeper parts of the trail, which meant I spent most of the uphill stretch holding on for dear life.

We stopped for lunch at the summit, with a brown paper bag packed lunch and lovely views of the surrounding mountains. We then pressed on for our next stop: the lake. The thing was, our guides hadn't used this trail for a while (clearly, other visitors were more easily discouraged from booking the 8 hour ride than we were) so we ended up hacking our way through the forest. Soon, we were lost. Very, very lost. We had to dismount and lead our horses through the increasingly thick and wild undergrowth in the stifling heat. It was only by chance that, after a lot of false leads, we stumbled upon our original trail and were able to retrace our steps back to the main trail.

We eventually made it to the lake, which was beautiful, and we relaxed for a while before beginning the return journey. By this point, my battered legs were in all kinds of agony and my horse had decided it was going to try to consume every blade of grass in sight. This meant a battle of wills between me and Diamond - one that Diamond usually won.

The downhill journey was slightly terrifying, particularly considering Diamond's tendency to stumble even on flat ground. I spent the steep downhill ride leaning so far back in my saddle I was practically lying down.

Safely back at the ranch, we hobbled to the verandah of the ranch and drank the most delicious home-made iced tea with freshly-baked cookies.

When we'd recovered a little, we drove to Rylan's aunt Linden's house, our base for two nights. We arrived late evening.

permalink written by  lucy3119 on August 18, 2012 from Lumby, Canada
from the travel blog: Canada and a little USA 2012
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A "relaxing" day...

Sicamous, Canada

I was promised a relaxing day today after barely being able to walk thanks to falling down the Mountain the day before. So we packed up camp and headed off to Sicamous and the lakefront home of Lossie and Jan, Rylan's aunt and uncle. Jan had made sure he was here especially so he could take us out on his motor boat, so after lunch on the balcony we headed out onto the lake for a few hours of deep relaxation.

However, the relaxation didn't last as long as I'd hoped...before I knew it I was in the lake, at the end of a rope attached to the boat, humiliating myself on (or mostly off) a wakeboard. Followed by a battering on the inflatable tube as Jan tried his hardest to throw us off, driving into the wake of other passing boats.

Finished the evening with an incredible dinner from Lossie as we talked about Peru, Lossie's home country.

permalink written by  lucy3119 on August 17, 2012 from Sicamous, Canada
from the travel blog: Canada and a little USA 2012
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Falling down a mountain

Revelstoke, Canada

Into Rogers Pass in Glacier National Park for our big hike up the Asulkan Valley trail. 8.5km struggling up a Mountain, 8.5km sliding back down again. The first stretch of the hike took us through shady trees strung with gigantic spider's webs, many of them suspended across the trail path, so obviously I made Rylan go first. The next stretch gave us great views of raging waterfalls and a treacherous walk across some late snow. The final stretch was torture. The way became ridiculously steep and exposed to the sun, and for a good few minutes I was concinved I was going to have some kind of organ failure. However, we made it to the top and sat and ate at one of the most epic lunch spots I will probably ever experience.

As if the uphill trek wasn't painful enough, on the way down I lost my footing and tumbled, head over heels, a good ten feet down the trail. Luckily, my legs took most of the impact...I still have the cuts and bruises to show for it.

After the hike, we headed to the town of Revelstoke where we limped around looking for jeans for our horseriding adventure two days away. We were intrigued by a restaurant advertising German-Indian cuisine, so we stopped in for deep-fried bratwurst wonton, korma and rose-flavoured milkshakes.

Another evening at the hot springs burned and then eased my Mountain-related injuries.

permalink written by  lucy3119 on August 16, 2012 from Revelstoke, Canada
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Meadows in the sky

Revelstoke, Canada

A day of 'easy' walks to recover from rafting the day before and to ease us in to our big hike the following day.

We started off at the Giant Cedars Boardwalk, which was quite mystical and awe-inspiring. Next, Skunk Cabbage Boardwalk, where we saw recent evidence of bears...but sadly (or luckily, depending on how you look at it) no bears themselves.

Next, we took a chance on Meadows in the Sky, which involved a long, winding drive up a Mountain and turned out to be one of the most beautiful places I have ever been to. Despite being stalked for the first fifteen minutes of the walk by a horse fly that took a shine to (and a bite out of) my head, we made it to the summit for some absolutely stunning views of snow-capped peaks and bright blue rivers. Our Mountaintop meadow itself was also beautiful, covered in a carpet of brightly coloured wild flowers. The experience is impossible to describe or replicate through photos.

We finished off the day with the Loop Brook trail, which followed the route of an old railway line through the Forest. We accidentally started at the end of the trail instead of the start, managing to get ourselves lost for a while.

Back at the campsite, we cooked fajitas with rice-a-roni (flavoured instant rice, slightly crunchy, my new favourite lazy food) and made the most of the hot springs again.

permalink written by  lucy3119 on August 15, 2012 from Revelstoke, Canada
from the travel blog: Canada and a little USA 2012
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Kicking Horses down the river

Golden, Canada

A whole day of white water rafting! The day began with a drive to the upper canyon of the Kicking Horse River in real American-style yellow ex-schoolbuses, which was a huge novelty for me (not just seeing one, but RIDING in one?!?) and completely underwhelming for Rylan, who used to get one to school every day anyway.

We were eased into rafting on the calm upper canyon, and then stopped for a barbeque lunch. We then headed to the middle canyon, which flowed slightly faster with several runs of Class 3 and 4 white water along the way. During another break, we mentally prepared ourselves for the lower canyon, a stretch of mostly Class 4 rapids. It was hard work, and we had several man-overboards, but the highlight was a stretch of rapids that our guide assured us was "totally safe" for us to jump out of the raft and swim through. The only warning: "oh, by the way, your head will definitely be underwater...just ride with it".

After a freezing cold yellow schoolbus ride back to base in Golden, we headed to our campground at Canyon Hot Springs, between Glacier and Mount Revelstoke National Parks. We recovered from rafting with a visit to the hot springs, and then cooked sausages on skewers over the campfire.

permalink written by  lucy3119 on August 14, 2012 from Golden, Canada
from the travel blog: Canada and a little USA 2012
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