Canada Trip Jul/Aug 06

Tuesday, August 08, 2006

Kentucky Adventures

We've had a good couple of days in Kentucky. Monday morning our niece Michelle took us on a short hike to some falls. However there was no water coming over the falls, but it was a beautiful walk through the Kentucky forest.

After lunch Glennis and Michelle took us on a tour of some of the shops around town. There are some absolutely beautiful handcrafts available: weaving, pottery, painting, glass, sculpture, furniture, woodturning, you name it they have it here.

Michelle and Glennis in the Glass Studio.

Late afternoon we drove down south of Berea to Cumberland Falls in a state park area. At midnight we got up and went down to the falls to see the moonbow. This is only one of two places in the world where you can see the equivalent of a rainbow produced by the moonlight on the spray from the waterfall. At first the moon was clouded over, but once the clouds went away we managed to see a faint white arc of the moonbow. The atmosphere at the moment is very hazy so the moon wasn't all that bright so the moonbow wasn't at its best. But we did manage to see it.

The next morning we went and explored the falls in the day time. Its a very beautiful area.

Paul in full stride.

Glennis and Paul

Sunday, August 06, 2006

Arrival in Kentucky

Hi all. On Saturday we made our tearful goodbyes to the Langridges when they dropped us off at the airport in Montreal. We flew to Lexington, Kentucky via Chicago airport. The O'Hare airport is huge and absolutely packed with people. We found it hard to find a seat to sit down on in our 2 hour stopover there.

We were met by Glennis and Paul Weston (Glennis is Bron's elder sister) at Bluegrass Airport in Lexington and they drove us an hour south of Lexington to a town called Berea, population around 14,000. Berea has a large college and is also known for its arts and crafts. Glennis and Paul's daughter Michelle runs a glass studio there and Glennis and Paul help out in the studio and shop.

Glennis and Paul's house is not set up to accommodate visitors so they arranged for us to sleep in some guest rooms in what used to be an old hotel just across the street. It is run by a Canadian lady from Ottawa, Canada of all places, and her husband and they do weaving and run a shop underneath the guest rooms. The guest rooms are full of their weaving products and its just beautiful. The bed spreads are worth over US$1,000 so Bron and I are being very careful not to slop our drippers.

On Sunday after breakfasting with Glennis and Paul, they took us for a drive around the countryside near Berea. We went for a train ride on a line being run by the Bluegrass Train Restoration group which was quite fun. The photo below shows Glennis and Paul with Bron in the old carriage plus a photo of the old locomotive that pulled the train.

The countryside is absolutely beautiful with some fabulous farms and horse ranches. Kentucky is the home of thoroughbred racehorses. The following photos give some idea of the countryside.

Paul took us on all the back roads which included a ferry trip across the Kentucky river.

This is Daniel Boone country and its very beautiful with its rolling hills, trees, incredible mansions and farms, quaint barns used for storing hay and drying tobacco, fields of corn and tobacco.

The day was incredibly hot and humid and as we were heading back to Berea the sky turned black, the thunder and lightning crashed and flashed around us and the rain pelted down. We saw some spectacular sky to ground lightning strikes.

So we had a great day catching up with Glennis and Paul and seeing some of the beautiful Kentucky countryside.

Saturday, August 05, 2006

Last Days in Canada

On Friday morning Earl took us on a cycle ride from Ontario to Quebec (i.e. across the bridge over the Ottawa river) and we rode next to the river for 5 or 6km. The path goes through lots of trees, so it was very pleasant and cool. A couple of photographs below demonstrate.

On Friday afternoon we went shopping at the Bayshore Mall and picked up a few clothing bargains plus a really nice kitchen knife which was on special.

On Friday night we went with Earl and Mandy into the centre of the city and had a fabulous meal at an Italian restaurant. We then went and watched some busking acts on Sparks St. There is an international busking festival happening here at the moment.

So we had a great last evening with Earl & Mandy. The 3 weeks here have gone by really quick, but have been thoroughly enjoyable. Mandy & Earl have been great hosts and its been great to catch up with the family.

Impressions of Canada and Ottawa

Canada, or the bits we saw of it, is a great place and Ottawa is a lovely city.
Things we liked:
  • beautiful trees and greenery
  • fantastic cycle tracks both in the city and suburbs and in the forest areas
  • lovely old government buildings
  • the nice warm weather
  • nice shops
  • good food
Not so good things:
  • the humidity
  • biting insects and mosquitos about 10 times the size of those in NZ!
Overall we loved Canada and will definitely be back. Next trip we will come in Autumn when its a bit cooler and the trees have all started to change colour.

Thursday, August 03, 2006

Shopping, Beaver Lake, Petrie Island

On Wednesday we had a rest day (from cycling) and a day of retail therapy going around some of the shops and malls in Ottawa. They have some big stores similar to The Warehouse back in NZ with heaps of stuff available. A lot of the clothes are made in Bangladesh!!.

They have some amazing special purpose stores like Ikea which is a huge warehouse catering for all your home furnishing and fitting needs. Quite an incredible range of stuff. It was interesting looking through the mall shops and the range of different goods and clothes available.

We also had coffee and donuts at Tim Hortons which is a popular Canadian fast food chain. So a nice relaxing day was had by all.

On Thursday Earl took Bron and I out for a bike ride to a beaver lake about 4km from Earl and Mandy's place. Earl took us through some relatively rough terrain and both Bron and Rob canned off. No serious damage though apart from wounded pride! Below is a picture of the beaver lake. You can see the beaver mound in the middle of the pond. We didn't see any beavers though. Apparently they are very shy. It was a nice ride through some beautiful woods and forests. The trails were a bit muddy after the heavy rain we had last night.

After lunch we went for a drive to Petrie Island on the Ottawa River downriver of Ottawa city to have a swim. However the beach was closed because the coliform levels were really high after the heavy rain last night. They normally close the beach when the level goes over 100. The level was over 750!!! Downriver of a big city is not a good place to be after heavy rain!!! The reserve area is beautiful though with lovely lily ponds and walks you can go on. The following photos show some of the wildlife and sights we saw.

We then went to Brittania Beach, our favourite spot, for a swim to cool off. This beach is upriver of the city so its not affected so much by the city runoff. A very enjoyable day.

Tuesday, August 01, 2006

Cycling Trip to the City

Today Earl and Robin cycled from Earl and Mandy's place into the centre of Ottawa City. The cycle tracks run virtually all the way, most of it next to the Ottawa River. Bron and Jordyn came part of the way.

At one point they have set up some stone sculptures on the shoreline.

The government buildings in Ottawa (which is the capital of Canada) are magnificent sitting up on a bluff overlooking the river.

In the centre of the city is a canal that runs from the Ottawa River through to the St Lawrence River connecting via several lakes on the way. At the Ottawa end there is a series of about 7 locks. There was a group of about 9 or 10 pleasure boats negotiating the locks. It took close to 3/4 of an hour to negotiate one lock, getting them lined up in the next look, closing the lock gates at one end, opening the water gate to go to the next level and opening the next set of gates. And they had 7 of these to negotiate!!

We then cycled back to Brittania beach where Bron and Jordyn were and had a very refreshing swim. Unfortunately it was a head wind on the way back and Rob found it hard going. He only just made it back home. Another factor was the temperature, 36 degrees C and very humid. According to the Humidity Index published in the local media it was equivalent to 47 degrees C!!! We must have been mad!! So this was Rob's first 30km bike ride for many years; quite an achievement.

Sunday, July 30, 2006

Sunday Afternoon Cycling

We went with Earl on a Sunday afternoon bike ride around some of the bush parks that Ottawa is blessed with. There are some fantastic trails for biking and walking in some of the suburbs not far from Earl and Mandy's house. We spent a good couple of hours cycling around. Being nice and flat its not difficult riding. Very enjoyable.

We went to Earl and Mandy's church this morning. Being the summer time here a lot of people go away on the weekends to their cottages (baches), so the numbers were down. Rob played bass in the service to help out due to lack of numbers in the music team. Mandy and Jordyn sang. Jordyn has an excellent voice and can harmonise really well. It was fun.

Saturday, July 29, 2006

Little Cedar Lake

Last week we travelled about an hour and a half North of Ottawa into Quebec to stay at a cottage we rented at Little Cedar Lake close to a town called Maniwaki. The drive up was through some beautiful countryside, lots of trees and small farms and very green at this time of year.

Here is a picture of the cottage we stayed at.

The girls, Sarah, Jordyn and Sophie spent a lot of time in the water swimming etc. There was a small runabout provided with the cottage so we could take trips out on the lake. Earl also towed the blow up turtle behind the boat so the girls could get a ride.

Sarah, Mandy, Bron and Earl enjoying the lakeside.

The location was very beautiful and peaceful and we had a very relaxing time. The sunsets were stunning.

Bron enjoying the setting sun and looking beautiful.

The temperature was a lot cooler than down in Ottawa but very pleasant. the weather was quite variable and we had a few overcast days and some rain. We spent quite a bit of time in the evenings around the campfire, talking, singing and roasting marshmellows. It was magic.

Bron and Earl.

Earl and Mandy enjoying an intimate moment.

We enjoying experiencing the local wildlife. We had some cheeky chipmunks scooting around looking for food etc. Bron got this gorgeous shot of a chipmunk.

We heard some amazing sounds at night made by loon birds. They have this most mournful cry that echos around the lake at night. It just the most incredible sound that conjures up a real sense of the outdoors and the wilderness. Its sort of like the howling of wolves. We saw quite a few loon birds on the lake and tried to get decent photos of them, but they are very shy. When you try and get close they will dive under the water and swim quite a way underwater to get away.

Here's Robin out on a boating excursion around the lake.

The area is dotted with lots of lakes and we drove to a couple of other lakes where they had nice walks and cycle tracks. There is a beautiful walk next Blue Sea lake that we went on a couple of days. The cycle/walk track runs by the lake for several kilometres. In winter they use the track for snowmobiles. The whole countryside and throughout Canada is covered with these cycle/snowmobile tracks. Its an amazing network and facilty that people can use.

Not long after we started on this walk by the Blue Sea Lake one day, thunder and lightning started in the hills on the other side of the lake. The thunder and lightning got closer and closer until it was all happening directly above us. It started to rain and Bron and Rob were caught out in the middle of it with lightning and thunder crashing directly overhead. Rob found it very exciting but Bron was really scared. Earl and Mandy picked us up in their car just before the heavens opened up and the rain absolutely poured down causing torrents of water to run down the streets.

The area is very beautiful with some great scenes like this one below.

So it was a great time and the lake and we thoroughly enjoyed it, despite the variable weather. We had to get back to Ottawa a day early because Bron broke one of her fillings and developed really bad toothache, so we had to take her to an emergency dentist to get that seen to.