– This post was created in partnership with Travel Alberta and the support of Tourism Red Deer, which helps me spend more time here (where I most want to be!) and spread the word about all the amazing things there are to do/eat/find in our province! It’s always a good time to support our local farmers and small businesses. As always, it’s a documentation of our trip, in my own (often awkward, sorry) words. – If you’re around here on a regular basis (thank you!), you may have learned that our new thing is short road trips, often to small towns that aren’t typical tourist destinations. I love the speed of small towns – the free parking at their core, the relaxed pace, the old bowling alleys and old-school diners. And I love finding new things right in our neighbourhood, globally speaking. A few weeks ago we spent the weekend in Red Deer and Lacombe – not high on most vacationers’ lists, but I wasContinue reading

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I’d like to sheepishly admit that although I grew up here, I’ve never really been to Waterton, save for a trip to a bison ranch ten years ago that no longer exists. I feel like a bad Albertan, but I know many Calgarians have never ventured this way, opting instead for the almost instant gratification of a drive to Banff or Canmore. The town of Waterton, in Waterton National Park, is tiny – with a population of 105, it virtually closes down in the winter, opening up again in May for the summer season. The place is somewhat of an enigma, without any chains (hotels and otherwise, with the exception of a small Subway), no cable TV and currently absolutely zero real estate for sale (we checked within 24 hours there) – it has a completely different flavour than Banff/Canmore/Jasper, focused on the lake but still surrounded by mountains. Touristy but not annoyingly so, nor overrun with people. One of the best things about aContinue reading

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I love driving to the mountains. Especially when the temperatures finally reach the twenties and everything starts to turn green again, and particularly when I’m heading there for the kick-off party for Canmore Uncorked – truly one of the best food festivals I’ve ever been to. We most often pass through Canmore en route to Banff or the Mt Engadine Lodge, often stopping for coffee and pastries at Le Fournil, but rarely is Canmore the destination. I was invited to come judge the kick-off party for Canmore Uncorked Food & Drink Festival yesterday, and spent the night so I could poke around town a bit more. Truly, Canmore Uncorked is one of the best food festivals I’ve been to – a celebration that includes over 30 locally owned restaurants and some pretty fab unique dining experiences. The opening bash had four teams of chefs, led by Neil McCue of Whitehall, Bill Alexander of Grey Eagle Resort, Anthony Rabot of Market Bistro and Trevor Whitehead ofContinue reading

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Banff in the winter is a wonderfully happy place, perfectly festive when it needs to be, and that cozy place to warm up, eat well and hunker down under ironed sheets after a day out exploring. It’s the place we’ve retreated to on weekends since I was a kid, a comfortable hour’s drive through the Rocky Mountains I try not to take for granted – just long enough to feel like you’re away from it all, but not so far that you have to forfeit half a day and pack snacks. (OK, I always pack snacks anyway.) We rarely venture out in that direction too close to Christmas, knowing so many other families take the opportunity to (our schedule is more flexible than most), but this year we went out for a few days the first week of winter holidays, post-school and pre-Christmas, which allowed for some gloriously quiet shopping, coffee and games by the fire, and some exploratory food research to kick me outContinue reading

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I’m officially hooked on these one or two day Alberta road trips – especially in fall, when it’s warm but not too hot, the shadows start to lengthen early and everything is turning shades of yellow, orange and gold. W and I hit the road a few weekends ago – we left on a Friday at noon, and I had forgotten how awesome the drive south to Lethbridge is. First stop: the Hitchin’ Post Drive-in in High River. A stand alone burger and ice cream joint in the middle of a parking lot at a roundabout in the middle of town that offers about a bazillion milkshake flavours – in every combination you can dream up. And then – the Nanton Candy Store. This is, to me, the quintessential small town candy-curios store, worth the drive its own self, jammed with enough interesting things to keep me busy poking around while W spends far too much time choosing his candies. The 100 square foot roomContinue reading

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This is the Overlander Mountain Lodge, on the edge of Jasper National Park, between Jasper and Hinton. I had no idea it existed. Generally when we head to Jasper, it’s up highway 93 from Calgary. This time we decided to take the long way home from Tofino, heading back up the 5 from Kamloops and then turning off into Alberta, and Jasper. I’ve been to Jasper a lot in the winter, and a few times in the spring and early summer (this year we went in May, and the weather was perfect) and they are, obviously, completely different experiences. While I love climbing through the mountains in ten feet of snow, I also love being able to hop in a canoe and paddle around Lac Beauvert. Whether or not you’re staying there, it’s worth a stop at the JPL to sit on the patio and have a few cocktails, and have dinner at the new Orso Trattoria – stunning food, and an equally stunning view.Continue reading

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This year, we spent the early weeks of summer poking around small town Alberta, spontaneously (when we could) jumping in the car with the dog to go exploring. We watched sunrises and sunsets, drove past waves of canola, through and around afternoon storms, and explored plenty of places previously overlooked whilst whizzing by on the QE2. Red Deer and Lacombe. The boys looked at me blankly when I told them (it had to be told, not suggested, or they likely wouldn’t have gone for it) we were going to spend a Friday this way. It turned out to be one of the best days so far this summer. Not least of all because I got to yell ‘canola!’ out the window at the yellow fields, making W roll his eyes and put on his headphones. Yes, already. The best prairie road trip days include doughnuts. The Donut Mill was one of those places we’d always whiz by on the highway, but although it didn’t openContinue reading

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A couple months ago now I went to Yellowknife and went fishing for pike. I caught a 12 pounder (estimated – it was big) and got to judge the World Shore Lunch Championships – an event where dozens of chefs and fishermen gather to cook whitefish like they would onshore – over an open fire. It’s something we experienced before the competition, on the aforementioned fishing trip on Great Slave Lake. Our guide steered our boat toward a rocky island – they’re all rocky there, with so little in the way of soil that the spindly trees cling for dear life to the rocks they somehow sprung out from. He cleaned the three or four pike we kept right on the mossy ground cover, tossing the head, tail, spine and entrails over one shoulder for the gulls, the perfect filets directly onto the soil and moss. One of the group gathered them up into a stainless steel bowl and took them down to the waterContinue reading

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Who knew this was a thing, in the middle of rural Alberta? Not me. We’ve been poking around home this spring and summer, jumping in the car and going on day or afternoon trips and overnights, just for a change of scenery and to get to know our province a little better. I love prairie road trips, and small towns I might not ever otherwise know. A few weeks ago we visited friends at their cabin between Gleniffer Lake and Red Lodge Provincial Park (both which are under an hour away yet I was previously completely unaware of), which turned out to be right below the Scandinavian Trail. Yes, we’re still in Alberta. We started at the Stephansson House, which turned out to be just off Township Road 371, in the middle of miles of fields. Turn down the road and you’ll find a tiny house – a provincial historic site dedicated to Stephan G. Stephansson – the Poet of the Rocky Mountains – whoContinue reading

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