North America ·
39 Days ·
38 Moments ·
7 October 2017
6 October 2017
We've slept our last night in Canada and are now on the car ferry out of Quebec. Mike finally got his wish..... to travel on the St Lawrence river! 😏👍 Canada has been sensational, more expensive than we expected but sensational and we've loved her. The east side, SO different from the west, has just entered its fall and the colours are stunning. We've stayed off main routes and instead meandering contentedly alongside winding rivers and towns of pretty veranda'd homesteads, all against a backdrop of red, gold and green. We enjoyed our stay in Montreal, in beautiful sunshine but Quebec was our favourite; its history, the old Citadel (we walked all the battlement walls), the boardwalk of Dufferin Terrace, the restaurant/bar vibes of Grand Allee with the modern Quebec spreading and climbing around it. Then there was the beautiful island of Ile D'Orleans and Jacques Cartier national parc where we literally got soaked to our skins... misjudged that weather weather warning didn't we Mike?
Since I wrote that this morning, the drive south to the US has astonished us. If the Rockies were the snow queen's kingdom, then the realm south of Quebec is totally that of the Autumn King and his Majesty reigns here. Beautiful, beautiful colours everywhere, close up in our faces saying "look at me, I'm prettier; have you ever seen such red?" and as far as the eye can see in every direction. I couldn't take enough photos and none of them do it justice. We were beginning to worry that Maine and New Hampshire would disappoint us but, apart from being stopped and searched at US Customs (do we look like drug runners?!!) the realm of the Autumn King has continued this side of the border and we have clearly picked a spectacular time of year to travel. 👍🍁🍁🍁🍁🍁
1 October 2017
For me, Niagara-on-the-Lake itself was too pretty. It felt fake, it's only 'raison d'etre' to be a tourist trap. I know the Falls are too but they're more honest and robust about it! Plus, there's a history to the Falls, a fascinating geology and some great stories. Then there's the Hydro-electric plants, really interesting. That they syphon off 50% of the Niagara River and still the Falls are so powerful is mind blowing. So,onto Toronto; stunning sunshine and a room overlooking the harbour front was a great result. We walked everywhere; favourites were the Distillery area, Breakfast at Evvivas, and along the lake. We loved Amsterdam Brew-House, ate there both evenings.
29 September 2017
28 September 2017
We arrived Niagara Falls yesterday after a lovely stopover with a Judy & Russ. Right now, I'm sitting enjoying the sensational view of Horseshoe Falls from our hotel room. What a phenomena, they're awesome. We've been through the tunnels to behind them and we've been boated into them. Last night, Mike & I just sat here with our wine and watched them, in all their illuminated splendour, for over an hour, soaking them into our memory. We're off now to do the White Water walk and then it's onwards to Niagara on the Lake, our next stop.
25 September 2017
Chicago has to be added to my 'must see' cities. Based along 3 river ' branches' and on the shores of Lake Michigan, it has a really attractive combination of waterfronts, beaches and glistening skyscrapers. Highrise Condo's live stylishly beside tree lined avenues of beautiful townhouses and, somehow, the 'L' on it's cranky steel struts fits too! Hillary, thank you for a truly lovely time; 'smoking' cosmos, steaks M & I are still salivating over, the perfect Brunch, beach bars and the Viagra Triangle 😜🤣😘. Love you loads and your condo is awesome. On a final note, to the genuinely kind uber driver who drove us to O'Hare Airport. Originally from Pakistan; a Muslim, a journalist, and a practising humanitarian and philanthropist.... We would have loved to get to know you better. Thank you. We arrived Saugatuck this afternoon; girls, it's like Steel Magnolia's, just lovely. I was expecting a smiling Dolly Parton or a cranky Shirley MacLaine every time we turned a corner.
24 September 2017
22 September 2017
We woke up this morning to snow all around us; it's time for us to leave the Rockies. They have thrilled us both, my pictures have not done them justice. Next stop, Chicago, via a flight from Calgary, where apparently the sun is shining for the hottest weekend in Chicago history (bring it on ☀️)and beautiful Hilary awaits us. I wish this blooming Journi app would load things in the order I send them with photos to match text 🙄🙄
21 September 2017
The temptation to stay in bed and chill this morning was great; perhaps I've had too much of a god thing? (good thing? mmm; maybe I was right the first time 😏😏) but Mike prevailed and so I rose 🙄! We went to Yoho and on the way crossed the continental divide. Aha, you say, what is the continental divide? Let me tell you a story of about a drop of water from Hawaii..... lifted from the Pacific Ocean, it travelled thousands of miles until it was precipitated over the Rockies. As it rained down, if it fell 1cm to the west side of the continental divide it would travel west down streams and rivers back to the Pacific but, if it fell 1 cm to the east side of the continental divide then it would end up in the Atlantic 😜😜 As we drove skyward to Takkakaw Falls, the landscape changed yet again to spires of snow laden firs towering over us. Definitely worth the trip, we were happy to make an early return to comforting soup and the hot tub 👍 Dinner at the Station Restaurant was good too.
20 September 2017
We continue to be surrounded by the jagged iced peaks of The Snow Queen's kingdom on our 2nd day in the Rockies, looming above the fir clad mountainsides; it's as if they're racing us to our destination. With the aid of an entertaining and really informative commentary as we drive (a stonkingly good app) we've done falls and lakes and glaciers, too many to list but all incredibly beautiful. As well as hitting every viewpoint, we've learned how the rockies were formed and much about the different explorers and the race to first cross the rockies and then to get the railway to cross them. It has got steadily colder and it snowed (yep, we weren't expecting it either 😏😏), despite which we hunkered down and hiked the 2km trail (50m elevation) to the Snow Queen's palace, 'the toe' of the Athabasca Glacier.....high 5 Mike 😘
19 September 2017
18 September 2017
14 September 2017
Our 50k dirt road detour at Kamloops where we saw the flock of Sandhill Cranes and our heartfelt relief when we reached the end of that 50k dirt road detour to find it ended as a ferry crossing 😲😲that, even though it was 5pm on a Sunday.....it still operated! Turkey Buzzards flying overhead and the Rocky Mountaineer whistling along beside us and freight trains, so long it would take forever to count the carriages! And suddenly we're in the rockies and there are no words to describe them........
12 September 2017
It's late, I should be settling to sleep but my mind is buzzing; so much to record, so much we've seen......but first and foremost, this country is totally, entirely, utterly, absolutely and PERFECTLY BREATHTAKING! We've travelled miles since leaving Whistler; seen and done so much. The highlights??Well.....
Our 3k trek to Nairn Falls, the 100yr old church at Spencer's Bridge (not to mention the bridge our Satnav directed us over!) Jim & Rene's fabulous lakeside home in the Okanagan Valley and 4 wonderful days of touring and wine tasting adventures with them. The Okanagan Valley, an incredible mix of fir clad mountains and immense lakes and now, row upon row of grapevines and fruit vines. The smoke laden air from forest fires; BC has had over 25,000 forest fires this year!
11 September 2017
And Whistler itself is just an adrenaline junky's heaven! I really like the village, it's style and the buzz that's here. I was so up for ziplining but that's Mike's idea of hell, we're neither of us fit for the scary biking trails, so we settled on doing the 'peak2peak'. Cable Gondola up mount Whistler, where I left Mike and soared (my wings 🦋) to the summit. It's a 360° viewing scape and I took shots of EVERY aspect! Then it's a great ride back to Mike and we take the peak across to peak ride and spotted a number of brown bears.....no, seriously, we saw bears! 🤣🤣
10 September 2017
🎼🎼 I'm sitting on top of the world 🎼🎼, literally I'm on the summit of mount Whistler and it's awesome...... the ski chairlift to the summit felt like wings 🦋. The last 4days have also flown by. Sadly, Vancouver was not able to show off her best to us. After 60days of no rain, guess what welcomed our arrival? But they needed it.....to dampen the many forest fires and smoke-laden air. Regardless, we had a good time. Our friends, Jim & Rene (who you may recall from our NZ tour) spent day 1 with us, showing us the sights and it was so lovely to see them again. We fitted in Stanley Park's totems, a beach walk, seeing a mountain of neon bright sulphur, Granville Island's artisan quarter and market and dined under a bridge. The vibrancy and buzz of eateries in Yaletown was a perfect last night there. The sun reappeared and our 2hr trip to Whistler became 5hrs as we took in every viewpoint, not to mention Shannon Falls, the Squamish 1000m high Sea2Sky ride and Brandywine Falls.
7 September 2017
I really, really liked Vancouver Island. Victoria, the island's capital has no famed spots but it comes across as a very attractive city and a very pleasant one to live in; not cheap mind you, the average house or condo price is £500k. From there, the island and those all around it, is your oyster as far as outdoor experiences and wildlife is concerned. I'd love to come back and see more and I think, if I was younger, I'd want to spend at least 6mths exploring. I don't know anywhere else I've felt that strongly about.
And then there's Buchart Gardens......absolutely awesome! My beautiful man let me wander for 2hrs, smelling every rose and snapping pictures non-stop without so much as a murmur. In fact he held my coke and fed me sips as we walked.
We lleft it this morning, heading for Vancouver itself on the ferry.
5 September 2017
4 September 2017
Telegraph Cove in the north of Vancouver Island is just enchanting. Lovingly restored back to its 1930's origins, the walkways look as if they were sliced straight from the magnificent trees surrounding us and you can see the outpost and then the salmon cannery that it once was. The cabins, bunkhouses and dockside suites still outwardly the same but inside, every modern day comfort. What was the old saltery is now the pub, which Mike & I have of course enjoyed to the full! We've had fantastic days of Grizzly watching and Whale watching. For the Grizzlies, we're in a quietly motorised flat bottom boat and then the crew switch off, and sink into the water in their waders and they tow us through the grassy waterways to have sight of the bears. They look amazing, wonderful faces and some get quite close. Our whale trip was riveting, literally surrounded by Orcas at our first stop and then by humpbacks at the next. It's Salmon season and the whales were having a feast.
3 September 2017
1 September 2017
So we leave Seattle, having also fitted in Pike Market; a brilliant place for crafty things but, oh, the fish stalls......mouth watering!
For guys who live by the Thames and know locks well, Chittenden lock was still surprisingly interesting. It boasts 2 locks side by side, the large is massive, a double that when opened up can take a cruise ship. The insides have rope bollards that rise and fall with the lock, so no need to be risking your balance as we do on the Thames. Equally amusing is how the lock keepers are clipped to a bar that spans the lock, they cannot fall in! The reason for the locks is a canal from Lake Union in the centre of Seattle out to the coast by Ballard. And to the side of the lock is the Salmon Ladder and we are here in Salmon season so saw lots of them on the approach to the ladder as they work themselves up to do the jumps. There's a great viewing window inside to see their progress.
We are loitering at a waterfront cafe, obligatory glass of wine in hand, as we await our ferry to Vancouver Island. It is a blazingly hot day, 26°, yet Mount Rushmore glistens and intrigues in the distance, still covered in snow. Our 2 days getting to know Seattle have been smashing. We left Heathrow at 1pm on Wednesday and arrived Seattle at 3pm the same day, magic; just like that a 9hr flight disappeared into the cosmos, never to be seen again. So we hit Space Needle first, well you need to start at the top don't you? Then it was off to wander (I love the practicality of US cities with their numbered roads, you really can't get lost!) and find our way to the main bar and restaurant area and, courtesy of a great waitress and fellow diners (I should've taken pics!) we had a laughter filled evening and Thursday virtually planned for us.
31 August 2017
We have established that the one thing Seattle does not do well is breakfast, a small minus! We did check out Breakfast Bitches, highly recommended by last nights diners Paige & Beth but bitch biscuits and grits wasn't doing it for us! So we took the bus out to Ballard and here we found the true Seattle. The Seattle of movies old and new, remember Carousel and the clam bake, Sleepless in Seattle of course and The Fabulous Baker Boys. Parks on pebbled beaches and fishermen teaching their sons. We walked over 28,000 steps that day, following the coastline all the way back to the famous Chittenden Locks, beautiful scenes on the way. I loved, loved, loved the old railway bridge that was lowered JUST as we began to photograph it and the 2mile long train that then took almost 15mins to cross it. And the massive boat/anchor chain we spotted in the bushes.
30 August 2017
And we're off..... See you all in Seattle, our first port of call. X