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.