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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Did I ever tell you about that time a couple months ago when I went wine tasting in Sonoma? It happened quickly, back in March – the week before spring break, when everyone was antsy to get out of town (and yet we had no plans to), I took off and spent a few days touring wineries and sitting on patios, and felt only a little bit guilty about it. It was all in the name of research, right? Besides, I had never been. And touring California wineries seems like the sort of thing I should get some insight into, right? So I can report back? Besides: early spring break. Our first stop: Buena Vista Winery, which has been around since 1857 – it’s California’s first “premium” winery (I guess they don’t count hobby tool shed wineries), just outside the town of Sonoma. I was with a small group of mostly wine writers, which was intimidating/interesting/thrilling and I highly recommend if you can swing itContinue reading

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Food + mountains = a fantastic combo, especially when it’s 23 degrees in the middle of the Rockies on a Friday afternoon-evening the first week of April. It’s perfect road trip weather, and patio weather, and sitting at a long table with 149 potential new friends under a tent while the sun sets behind the mountains weather. Canmore is a great food destination – Crazyweed has long been our stop of choice, and the new PD3 by Blake provides an awesomely unique dining experience on the upper level of a silver double decker bus.

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I’m all about the road trips. (Often, it’s just an excuse to buy Cheetos and gaze out the window.) Some weekends, they’re just short hops – and that’s fine, almost better than long hauls. It feels like there’s proper separation between you and the obligations of home, you still get to sleep in a hotel room bed, and there’s barely time for passengers to ask if we’re there yet. Also – I never get tired of the diversity of our prairie landscape. Drive in one direction (west) and you hit the Rockies. Drive in another (northeast) and after an hour or so of rolling fields, it suddenly opens up to this. Badlands! It’s different in winter, with a skiff of snow instead of almost intolerable heat, no hum of crickets nor risk of tripping over a rattlesnake. And no crowds at the Royal Tyrrell Museum, Canada’s only museum dedicated exclusively to the science of palaeontology, which W is now fully and completely preoccupied with. AlthoughContinue reading

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Despite how things might sound, we don’t get out a whole lot, just Mike and I. Partly because of life and stuff, and being the parents of a 10 year old who would rather go to McDonald’s – but also because my job involves a whole lot of cooking. So lately we’ve been making an attempt to get out more, investigate new places and taste new things, and at the same time support our (currently stressed-out) independent restaurants. Of course eating out can be pricey, so as believers in both love and money we’ve been seeking out ways to try new spots without spending too much. Here’s how we’ve been attempting to maintain a manageable Visa bill. They’ve been popping up around the city, offering great deals to bring people in before the dinner rush – we used to go to Cibo all the time after school (they have $5 pizzas weekdays between 3-5) but recently stumbled onto happy hour at Native Tongues, the new(ish)Continue reading

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