"Perfection is achieved, not when there is nothing more to add, but when there is nothing left to take away." - Antoine de Saint-Exupery

Monday, January 18, 2021

My Hawaiian Journal

Aloha!
Hawai'i is a beautiful place to visit, as I did for our 25th wedding anniversary. This Hawaiian site was my first web-site and I include it here as a tribute to how this all started. Surf on over. You'll find lots of tips and other useful information about Maui, Kauai and O'ahu. Have fun browsing. If you get a minute, let me know what you think.

Maui

 Maui was the first island we visited on our trip to Hawai'i. For a first time trip to the islands, or a revisit to the islands, Maui is a definite destination point.

In Maui, we stayed at the Aston at Papakea Resort, an oceanfront haven set within 13 acres of freshwater lagoons, picturesque bridges, and lush tropical landscapes. Even though an ocean wall separates the resort from the water, the beach is easily accessible for an enjoyable stroll or dip. I highly recommend staying at Papakea's when visiting.

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Monday, January 18, 2021

Japan - Yakitori Shacks and Cold Coffee

Occassionally, business takes you to places you only dream about going. This is the case with a recent trip to Japan. The majority of our group had never been before, so everyone was looking forward to the adventure, though not necessarily the long flight. Starting in Toronto at 10:00am on Sunday for what was a relatively short 5 hour flight to Vancouver. Following a two hour layover, we boarded the plane to Japan for the final 10 hour leg of the trip.

The flight path takes you north over Alaska and across the Bering Strait, then down to Japan. Clear skies ensured an exciting view of Alaska. For hundreds of miles, the view consisted of a vast wasteland of cool white snow and shadows cast by the afternoon sun.

Somewhere in the middle of the Pacific, we crossed the international date line, arriving in Narita Airport at 5:00pm Monday afternoon. Narita Airport is an hour drive from our hotel, the Shinagawa Prince, in Tokyo. Having been up for over 24 hours, the plan was to force ourselves to stay up a couple of hours more, then get a good nights sleep and start fresh in the morning.

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Monday, January 18, 2021

Ultimate Rocky Mountain Experience

Midway through our Western tour, we left Revelstoke with our sights set firmly on Lake Louise. By now we had spent nine days racing around much of British Columbia, from Kelowna to Vancouver to Victoria and then across much of the BC interior. We just wanted to settle for a few days in one place. Though we didn't have any reservations in Lake Louise, and others have warned us we would have a hard time finding a place to stay, we didn't give it a second thought.

We soared through Glacier National Park , with a quick stop at Rogers Pass  to stretch our legs and grab some refreshments. Historically significant as the last great obstacle facing the trans-continental railway, we didn't find anything of real interest other than the beautiful scenery.

Just west of Lake Louise, we found a comfortable lodge called, what else, West Louise Lodge. Formerly the historic Wapta bungalow camp built by the CPR in 1921, West Louise Lodge has been visited for over 80 years by people from around the world searching for that Ultimate Rocky Mountain Experience. To our surprise, the room rates were very reasonable starting from $99.00. We paid $129.00 per night for a theme suite with a loft and fireplace... and breakfast was included! This would be our home base for the next 5 days.

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Monday, January 18, 2021

Beautiful British Columbia

This year's adventure was to beautiful British Columbia. We kicked off our trip in Kelowna where my brother lives, and then spent the next couple of weeks touring as much of the province as possible. Discovering the essence of each city while on a tight schedule would prove to be a challenge. But the real adventure is in the journey, not the final destination, isn't it?

Our summer adventure started in Kelowna in mid-July. We visited there about three weeks before the area was hit hard by forest fires. During our short stay, the temperatures were constantly in the mid-thirties with no rain for weeks.

My brother, who lives in Kelowna, was getting married. Hence, the reason for our trip. Though our stay was primarily centered around his wedding, but we did managed to visit some of the area's key sites. Without a doubt, most summer recreation activities revolve around the water or the golf course.

Just for interest sake, Kelowna means grizzly bear in the First Nation language.

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Monday, January 18, 2021

Calgary - The Devil Went Down...

Calgary is simply a great city. Ask anyone who has ever lived there. Visit once and you'll wonder why anyone would ever leave. Attractions throughout the city appeal to every interest. Calgary is also home to some of the finest natural areas within a city anywhere in North America. And Calgary is clean! I've never seen any city as clean Calgary. Much of the downtown core is new, having been built during the 1970's oil boom. Even so, historic buildings from the turn of the 20th century are still visible downtown.

Generally, Calgary weather is moderate year-round. Alberta has more hours of sunshine in a year than any other province in Canada, and Calgary is know for its blue skies. During the winter, a unique phenomenon called a Chinook can raise temperatures more than 20 degrees in a single day. A strong wind and an arch of clouds over the mountains herald the arrival of a Chinook. On a previous winter visit to Alberta, I remember having to bundle up going from the car to a restaurant for lunch. There was a definite chill in the air. By the time we left the restaurant, a Chinook had come down and the weather had turned considerably warm.

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Monday, January 18, 2021

Winnipeg - Finding Harmony and History

Recently, the first leg of a lengthy western Canada tour involved a welcomed one day stop over in the lovely city of Winnipeg, Manitoba. The challenge would invariably rest on picking the selected attractions that would distill the essence of the city, but still provide enough leisure time to enjoy the day.

Arriving about ten in the morning, the first order of business was to rent a car, find a map and head to the center of the universe - Portage and Main. It's hard to explain what the attraction is here. Seems everyone visiting Winnipeg for the first time is drawn to this busy, metropolitan intersection - reputedly the windiest corner in North America and one of the most famous intersections in Canada. We parked the car in the nearby Exchange District and walked to one of the corners at Portage and Main. Didn't find it particularly windy. The reason I say 'one of the corners of Portage and Main' is because one cannot simply cross the intersection. To get to one of the other corners, one has to take an underground tunnel. We didn't bother.

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Monday, January 18, 2021

Escape to the Eastern Townships

Nestled in the Appalachian foothills of southern Quebec, the Eastern Townships are comprised of picturesque New-England influenced towns and villages. This rich architectural heritage and mountainous countryside give Les Cantons d'Est (Eastern Townships) a unique character all its own.

Like much of Quebec, the area was originally explored and inhabited by the aboriginal nations. Names like Massawippi and Magog are testament to its Abenaki Eastern Townships First Nation history. When the United States declared their independence, many American colonists still loyal to the British monarchy settled in the Eastern Townships. For decades, these original settlers, known as Loyalists, were followed by other immigrants from the British Isles and French colonists. Though mostly populated by English speaking residents at the beginning of the 1900s, today over 90% of the population is French speaking.

Tiny Village of Mystic
Leaving Montreal via Champlain Bridge, we started our adventure by taking Highway 10 towards Magog. Though this is the most direct route to Lake Memphrémagog, we planned to explore more of the backroads. Our first stop was the tiny village of Mystic. Though promoted as still mainly anglophone, we found that French was the first language of choice. Growing up just outside Montreal, it was always known that the people of the Eastern Townships were mostly English speaking. Except for a couple of exceptions, we found this was not the case now. Though French is the first language of choice, we found most people do speak English.

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Monday, January 18, 2021

Bayfield - Blues, Boats and Beautiful

imageBayfield, a small historic village on the shore of Lake Huron, combines the old fashioned charm of a quaint country town with modern day amenities. MacLean's Magazine described Bayfield as "Paradise Found", while Harrowsmith Country Life magazine votes Bayfield "one of the 10 prettiest towns in Canada".

For well over a century, Bayfield has been a favourite destination for travelers and holidayers. Arriving by water or land, visitors continue to be attracted by the beautiful scenery, fine sandy beaches, four seasons of outdoor sports, excellent shopping, dining and accommodations.

Having briefly visited Bayfield a couple of years previous, we decided to revisit the area for a longer stay and try a new experience at the same time - staying in our first bed and breakfast. We planned our trip around the Labour Day weekend, arriving early Sunday afternoon. First stop, Pioneer Park overlooking the beaches of Lake Huron. Neither the park nor the beaches were overly busy.

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Sunday, January 17, 2021

Point Pelee

Situated along the beautiful Lake Erie, Point Pelee is notable for being the most southern point in mainland Canada. As such, the area benefits greatly from the resulting milder winters and longer growing seasons in summer.

Point Pelee National Park, where the tip or point is actually located, has been a protected nature preserve since 1918. At that time, much of the park was inhabited by hunters and farmers, known as The Pointers. Today, no one lives inside the park boundaries and the area has become a safe haven for many wildlife species. Every year, thousands of song birds, butterflies, dragonflies and bats migrate to the area from locations further north. Somewhat hesitant to cross the open water of Lake Erie, they stop and make their home in the park. The Festival of Birds celebrates this amazing natural phenomenon each May.

To get to Point Pelee, travel west along highway 401 almost to Windsor and turn south on highway 77. This will take you into the town of Leamington. A more scenic route, though a little slower traveling, is possible by taking any of the smaller highways south after you pass London until you reach Hwy 3. Then travel west until you reach Leamington. This route will take you through numerous small towns and along the waters of Lake Erie in some places.

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Sunday, January 17, 2021

Celebrate New Hamburg's Heritage

On this lightly over-cast Sunday afternoon, driving west along Hwy 8 towards Stratford, we decide to stop in the little town of New Hamburg for a short while. Well, a short while turned into an afternoon. Though today the weather is brisk, the New Hamburg atmosphere is warm and inviting. The Nith River twists through the center of town, linking three parklands where residents and visitors stroll, picnic and watch the white and black swans along the river banks.

We park the Jeep in the parking lot next to the town's fire hall. An oversized mural adorns the wall facing the parking lot and blends perfectly with the season's warm colors. From here, we make our way down to the river and watch the numerous Canada geese that inhabit the area.

The Heritage Water Wheel slowly turns on the far bank of the river. Acting as a center-piece for the park, this is the largest operating water wheel in North America, a tribute to the importance of the Nith River and the many water-powered mills which borne the town's first industries. Even today, one mill continues to thrive in this Heritage Conservation District.

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