* This post was created with the support of Travel Alberta – thanks for helping me seek out and spread the word about all the delicious things in our province! We drove southeast to Medicine Hat just before the end of school, when we were all tired and in need of some time gazing out the window. This small town road trip thing, it’s a counterirritant. (I heard the word counterirritant recently, and have been wanting to use it.) The long (but not too long) drive, the slower pace, the new places to explore without the rush of the city. The parking meters, if any, that still take nickels and dimes, right downtown. The rivers and bridges and green spaces. We did what is starting to become our routine – checked into a hotel with a pool, and went to poke around town. And because there always seems to be a heat wave when we’re in Medicine Hat, we stopped at Swirls for ice creamContinue 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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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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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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Eating out in Banff

Apologies for the radio silence – it’s been a crazy month, and I didn’t want to draw too much attention to this new space, to fully invite you in to poke around and give the grand tour, until everything in it was cleaned up and functional. (Hello, Christmas holiday project.) But honestly, it would be more like me to just sweep everything into the corners and open more wine in the hopes that no one will notice. I’m also learning a slightly new dashboard while I go – and thought I’d start with a recipe-free post, before I learn my new plugin (that also enabled new search functionality – my priority!), and so I thought I’d tell you a little about Banff, if you aren’t already familiar with it, or even if you are. It’s one of my happy places – I’ve been driving the hour or so there since I was a kid, crammed into the rear of one of those backwards-facing navy blueContinue reading

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For all my whingeing about the end of summer, I adore fall – it’s my favourite time of year. I look for any excuse to hit the highway – in any direction, but I particularly love heading southwest of the city, along the Cowboy Trail, to Priddis and Millarville, Black Diamond and Turner Valley. A couple weekends ago, we helped with a barley harvest out at Bar U Ranch, a preserved working ranch and the only National Historic Site to commemorate the history of ranching in Canada. The Bar U was one of the first large scale cattle ranching operations in Canada, at one time ranging 30,000 head of cattle on 160,000 acres of grassland, and held a stock of 1,000 purebred Percherons. To sum its legacy from the Friends of the Bar U Ranch website: The ranch fed workers building the first transcontinental railway and waves of immigrants, Canada’s first Indian reservations, the first patrols of Northwest Mounted Police, our nation through the GreatContinue reading

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When most Calgarians hop in the car for a day trip outta Dodge they tend to head west, toward the mountains, toward Banff and Lake Louise and skiing and snowboarding. And while those are very worthwhile destinations, I’m partial – once spring rolls around – to leaning more southwest, toward the Cowboy Trail, that gorgeous rolling expanse of foothills between the city and the mountains out on highway 22. Technically, the Cowboy Trail (named for all the ranches it winds past) runs 700 km, from highway 3 near Lundbreck to Highway 18 near Mayerthorpe, but the chunk we like to take goes from Bragg Creek through Priddis, past Millarville – and the farmers’ market at the racetrack on summer and fall weekends – to Turner Valley and Black Diamond. It’s a perfect distance – a couple hours in the car, with plenty to stop and eat. The Millarville Market should be opening again soon for the season-typically it’s open Saturdays 9-2. Keep driving another tenContinue reading

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I head up to Jasper at least once a year – I’ve been going for Christmas in November for the past 13 years – and because I’m typically eating and drinking at the Fairmont JPL, I rarely have an excuse to check out the town beyond gassing up. This weekend there was a little more wiggle room, and we decided to stay for an extra day to exhale before hitting the coast and to do a bit of a Jasper walkabout. People kept asking me where to eat in Jasper and the truth was, I had no idea. Jasper is a ski town in the Athabasca river valley, small and beautiful and full of gift shops, anchored by a railway station and often populated by herds of elk. There’s an Earls and a Famoso pizza and a Tim Horton’s, the requisite tourist-stop candy store and an easy to find grocery store on the main drag. But some poking around and asking those in the knowContinue reading

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