Not To Be Trusted With Knives

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Road Trip

Scott and I went on a road trip1. He had met my mom and sister when they were here in May and now it was my turn to meet his family. Our two main destinations were Red Deer, where his mom lives, and Kelowna, where his dad lives.

On the way there, we went through Jasper. I’ve never been to Jasper before, but I remember my Aunt Wendy going there when I was little and bringing me back a silver dollar. I’d also heard that it’s absolutely gorgeous there and I was not disappointed!

Jasper, AB

Jasper, AB

Jasper, AB=Jasper, AB

To make it even better, we had free entry thanks to the Parks Canada free-entry-to-all-national-parks-in-celebration-of-Canada-150 pass. While in Jasper we enjoyed:

  • the Miette Hot Springs, where there had both hot springs pools and cold pools, the latter of which gave me flashbacks to the torture of the physiotherapy cold tub
  • the Columbia icefieldJasper, AB
    Jasper, AB
  • Tangle Creek
    Jasper, AB
  • Various wildlife, although not as much as I expected to see and no bears, which I wanted to see, but only from a distance and from inside the car. Because I don’t have a death wish. Bears are scary!
  • Goats in Jasper, AB
    Jasper, AB

After Jasper we were off to Red Deer to visit Scott’s mom and spend some time on the family farm. At the farm I:

  • rode a horse named Cookie Monster and got bitten but eleventy billion mosquitoes.

    The Cookie Monster - I got to ride him!

    Cookie Monster!

  • met a lot of dogs. Every time I turned around, there was another dog! There was Rosie and Dudley and Puddles and Dakota and Flydog and Archie.
    Rosie

    Rosie

    Dudley

    Dudley

  • met Sylvester the cat, who is heard a lot about from Scott and who looks just like Sylvester from Bugs Bunny. He’s a farm cat through and through – I watched him eat a mouse2 – but he’s also a snuggly little guy who will curl up with you at bed time. He’d been in a bit of a scrap with another farm cat at a few days earlier and had a big gash just above one eye, so I was worried about him, but he’s all better now after some antibiotic ointment that Scott’s mom got from the vet. And I’m just realizing I didn’t get any photos of Sylvester. #fail
  • met three little kittens who recently arrived at the farm: Milkshake, Stripey Cat, and the Orange One. They were pretty freaking adorable!
    Milkshake the kitten at the farm

    Milkshake

    Stripey Cat the kitten at the farm

    Stripey Cat

    Orange kitten at the Farm

    The Orange One

  • met 2 other cats, but only from a distance because, while adorable, they were, let’s say very protective of their territory: Halo, and the aptly named Killer.
  • saw a bunch of cows. It is a cattle farm, after all. Most of the cows were out at pasture, but there were two calves that didn’t have moms to be out at pasture with – one was orphaned and the other was rejected by its mom – so they were hanging out in a pen with a dairy cow who was brought in to feed them. Sort of like a wet nurse for cows. The dairy cow had a tongue that was about 2 ft long and tried to eat my arm.

I really think my niece and nephew would like the farm. And my dad would have liked it too!

While in Alberta, we also made a trip to Eau Claire Distillery ((Here’s my usual disclaimer: no one paid me to talk about any of the business I talk about in this posting. I kind of wish they did, because most of the business I talk about in this posting make booze!)), the first craft distillery in Alberta, which opened in 2004. Scott had been there back when they first open for a fundraising event and wanted to show it to me. They make primarily barley-based booze, although they do have one vodka made from prickly pear cactus. They also hand harvest all the barley, which seems like a particularly crazy way to get your barley.

Eau Claire Distillery, Turner Valley, AB

Drinks at Eau Claire Distillery, Turner Valley, AB

Scott had a Moscow mule and I had (if I recall correctly) an apricot whiskey sour.

Then we went into Calgary, which you may recall is my least favourite place that I’ve ever been. In Calgary, police cars are all Ford F-150s and everyone drives Lamborghinis. True story.

This is how they do police cars in Calgary

Row of expensive cars - apparently this was a show & shine in Calgary

We did go to Prince’s Island Park and it was nice and we ate at the Palomino Smokehouse and it was good. So I may have to revise my stance from “I hate everything about Calgary” to “I hate everything about Calgary except Prince’s Island Park and Palomino Smokehouse”.

After a few days of Red Deer, which included some family dinners with Scott’s mom and her boyfriend, and meeting Scott’s grandma3 we hit the road again, this time traveling through Banff on our way to visit Scott’s dad in Kelowna. We made a stop in Revelstoke to visit Monashee Spirits Distilling. Monashee opened about 4 months ago and makes some of the best craft booze around! Josh gave us a tour of where all the magic happens and we got to sample his wares. Incidentally, I have a bottle of Big Mountain Creamer and, since all of Monashee’s products are certified organic and don’t have preservatives, and the Big Mountain Creamer has, understandably, cream in it, this bottle has an expiry date – anyone who wants to come help me drink it should let me know!

While in Revelstoke, we also decided to try out the Pipe Mountain Coaster, a single person roller coaster down the mountain! It was a bit pricy, but pretty freaking fun!Scott on the Pipe Coaster in Revelstoke, BC

Then it was off the Okanagan! While there we checked out, in no particular order:

Old Order Distillery

    • The People’s Crafthouse Soda Company – these guys make fantastic craft sodas: root beer, cream soda, tonic, ginger ale, elderflower, and they even have one called “seasonal fruit” that is made with whatever fruit happens to be in season. When we were there it was strawberry-cherry (the end of the strawberry season and the start of cherry season) and they said that the next week it would be just cherries, then later it would be blueberry, blackberry, peaches, etc. I just looked at their website and they currently have pear-ginger! We did a tasting of their sodas and then talked to them for nearly an hour about how they started their business and about their experience on the Dragon’s Den. They were super nice people and if you ever happen to be in Penticton, I highly recommend you check them out!
    • Bad Tattoo Brewing
    • The Vibrant Vine winery – I was there last year, as the half marathon I ran in Kelowna started in their vineyard (and then I went back later to actually check out the winery) and I really wanted to show it to Scott. All of their packaging and the art in the winery is 3D and while you might think that gimmicky labels may signify poor quality wine, but you’d be wrong. Their wine is outstanding!
    • House of Rose – At the Canada Day festivities at the Kelowna waterfront, we’d gotten coupons for the “Fab 5” wineries – a group of wineries, including The Vibrant Vine, who co-market to try to get people to visit these wineries that are all in the same area (though they are quick to tell you that it’s just a marketing arrangement – they are all independent wineries). So we decided to check out some of the others, which we hadn’t heard of before. One of them was the House of Rose and while the grounds were pretty (I kind of felt like I was at House Tyrell with the rose theme), sadly their wines just weren’t very good.

The House of Rose Winery, Kelowna, BC

  • Camelot Vineyards – Like House of Rose, Camelot sticks to its theme, with coats of armour and a sword stuck in a stone decorating the place, but I didn’t like their wines. After this, we decided to cut our losses on the “Fab 5” wineries, electing not to go to the remaining two.
    Camelot Winery, KelownaCamelot Winery, Kelowna
  • Summerhill Pyramid Winery – This winery has a pyramid that they apparently store their wine in for some reason. Their sparkling wine is quite nice.
    Scott and I at Summerhill Pyramid WIneryPlus they have what looks like a weirwood tree.Summerhill Pyramid WInery
  • Grizzli Winery – I discovered Grizzli Winery last year when I was in Kelowna – just saw it as we were driving by and went in on a whim and I really, really like their wines. So Scott and I went there so that he could check it out and also so I could see what was new since I was there last year, shortly after they opened. They had white wines this time (which they didn’t last year) and I liked them a lot!

When we weren’t tasting all the beverages, we spent some time walking the boardwalk in Kelowna and having family breakfasts and dinners with Scott’s dad and his girlfriend. And then before we knew it, our vacation was over! Will definitely have to go back – feels like we just scratched the surface of all the things we could do!

  1. Like a month ago, but I’m only getting around to blogging about it now. Because there are too many exciting things going on this summer and I haven’t had time to sit down and write! []
  2. I realized that I’d never seen a cat eat a mouse before! We saw that Sylvester was sitting in the grass so we went over to see him and saw that he had a half eaten mouse corpse in front of him and one of the mouse legs, which he was slowly devouring, in his mouth. After eating the leg he started pulling the guts out to eat! []
  3. Who reminded me a lot of my Granny Snow. Incidentally, Scott’s grandma told her hair stylist that she approved of me (one of the times we went to visit her she was in the salon) and then Scott learned that women always tell their hair stylist everything! []

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Seattle Hates Map Books

Yesterday was the first day of my weeklong vacation, which I decided to take before school starts up and things start to get crazy. I decided to spend the day taking a road trip down to Seattle with Kalev.  It was a relaxed trip with no real goals in mind – we weren’t going there to shop1 or to any particular event or anything. We did, however, want to find a map.  You see, here in BC, we’d just use Google Maps on our iPhones. But once you cross over the border, roaming fees kick in and since we’d be charged about $1 billion per byte, we both turned our phones off to avoid ending up with cell phone bills that would be bigger than my student loan debt. I have a map book containing maps of the whole Lower Mainland that I used before I got my iPhone and I wanted to get something similar for the Seattle area.  However, we would soon discover that Washington state hates maps of any kind, but especially map books.  Despite going to Walgreen’s, Safeway, and a few gas stations, we were never able to find even a single map book, and the few old school folding maps they did have were either maps of the whole state (which didn’t have enough detail of the cities for our purposes) or individual city maps (which didn’t contain maps of enough places to be worth our while). In the end, we went mapless and managed to find our way to where we wanted to be, though we did stand outside a shop and steal their wifi to check out a map at one point:

IMG_1047 Kalev, standing outside a shop, stealing some wifi.

In addition to the lack of proper maps, the purchasing of gas proved challenging. Now, we all know that the US has super cheap gas compared to Canada (we are talking 90 cents per litre of premium gas in Washington state vs. $1.30 per litre in Vancouver). So I made sure that I didn’t fill up before we left Canada. But when we stopped in Everett to fill up, I noticed this odd sign on the pump:

IMG_1044

Enter my “zip” code to get gas, eh? I didn’t actually read the sign at first, so I thought the pump was asking for a zip code just as one of those things where they collect zip codes so they can survey where their customers have come from. So I did what I always do when I am required to enter a zip code (and a Canadian postal code isn’t accepted) – I entered “90210.” Unfortunately, the entering of the zip code is actually to check if you are using a stolen credit card (which, if I’d read the sign, I would have known) and s0 your zip code has to match your credit card billing information. Which, of course, means that Canadians can’t use their credit cards at the pump (at least not at the Safeway gas stations). But really, how many Canadians can they possible get in a border state, right?

Now, around here if the pay-at-the-pump isn’t working (or you are out in small towns in the Fraser Valley where their pumps are so old they don’t have pay-at-the-pump options), you just give your credit card to the cashier, pay your gas, and then go inside and pay. Not here though. Instead, you have to tell them a dollar amount to charge to your card, they charge it, then you pump your gas, and then they refund the difference between the first transaction and how much gas you actually took. So efficient!  Also, they didn’t require my postal code or any other sort of verification that I was the owner of that credit card when I went inside to pay, so that’s kind of a loophole in their security system.

I had *no idea* how much a fill up would cost because they list their prices in $ per gallon and I don’t even know what a gallon is2! So I just said, “Put $30 on it” as that’s roughly how much a tank costs me in Vancouver, so I knew it would be more than enough to cover the cost of a tank there.  In the end, it cost ~$18.

Also photoworthy was the parking payment stub that you have to tape to the window when you pay for street parking in Seattle:

Day 70

Apparently their meter-maids can’t be bothered to look on your dashboard like meter-maids everywhere else.  Your parking stub prints out on a sticker, but the sticker isn’t the parking stub part, it’s the backing of the  parking stub, which you use like a piece of tape to stick the stub to your side window. Weird!

Other than inefficient gas purchasing and map scarcity and weird parking stubs, though, the trip was awesome. We accomplished our goal of not doing anything in particular, including:

Also, Kalev bought some Squirt, which I maintain sounds dirty, and I might have told a waiter that Kalev likes big sticks.

All in all, good times.

  1. since you can only bring $50 back if you stay less than 48 hrs in the US []
  2. I mean, I know it’s a measure of volume, but I couldn’t tell you the gallons-to-litres conversion off the top of my head, so couldn’t even do a ball park estimate []

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My Mid-Week Weekend Update – Part 1

So this past weekend I was out having so much bloggable fun that I never got around to blogging it. Until now. Which is Wednesday.

Saturday involved Kalev and I going on an epic road trip to the Albion Ferry.  For anyone not from the Lower Mainland, I shall explain what the Albion Ferry is (which should give those of your who are from the Lower Mainland enough time to recover from laughing at the thought of the Albion Ferry being thought of as a tourist destination).  The Albion Ferry is essentially a commuter ferry that brings people across the Fraser River from Maple Ridge to Fort Langley.

albion ferry by you.

The thing is, someone who lives in Vancouver would never really have occasion to take the Albion Ferry.  If you want to go to Langley, you would just drive over the Port Mann Bridge:

albion ferry3 by you.

To get to Maple Ridge, you take the Pitt River Bridge:

albion ferry2 by you.

The ferry ride itself is just a few minutes, but you often hear of 3, 4 or more sailing waits (and with each sailing being 15 minutes apart, that can be a substantial amount of time sitting in your car waiting for a few minutes on a boat).  So they are building a bridge – The Golden Ears Bridge – which has been under construction since June 2006 and which will be ready in about two weeks, so that people in that area can just drive over the river whenever they feel like it. And thus the Ferry is being retired next month. Hence the road trip. Kalev and I felt it was our civic duty to have taken the Albion Ferry at least once before it is shut down forever.

I’m pretty sure Kalev and I were the first ever tourists on the Albion Ferry.

But I’m ahead of myself.  First, here’s a picture of me picking up Kalev in Zaphod Beeblebrox the Car:

Dr. Beth in Dr. Car by Kalev.

Did I ever mention that I frickin’ love my car?

From Kalev’s, we headed out on Highway 1 and were chatting so much we totally forgot that we were supposed to get off the highway at the United exit.  Which super duper sucked because it meant we had to go over the Port Mann bridge, then turn around and come back. And the Port Mann bridge coming back was at a standstill.  So we sat ont he Port Mann for about 30 minutes when we really didn’t need to, seeing as we never meant to go over it in the first place!  Good thing we weren’t in a hurry!

Once we got back to where we actually meant to be, things were good and after much driving, we eventually got to the ferry. And then we had to wait three sailing waits!  But it was totally worth it, as it was a nice (albeit very, very short) little boat trip across the river:

Albion Ferry loading by Kalev.

Loading onto the ferry.

Beth & Dr. Car on the Albion Ferry by KalevMe & Dr. Car on the Albion Ferry by Kalev

Proof that Kalev and I did, in fact, get on the Albion Ferry!

After the brief trip across the water, we checked out the quaintness that is Fort Langley.  I have a theory that all quaint towns are legally required to sell fudge.  Ft. L. did not disappoint.

On the hunt for Fudge Zero by Kalev.

Kalev assured me that food in Langley does not contain calories on his birthday weekend and henceforth the fudge was dubbed “Fudge Zero”:

Fudge Zero logo by you.

And then it was on to The Olive Garden for dinner.   The choice of restaurant was on Kalev’s insistence, as I maintain that the O.G. is white trash fine dining, but I do concede that the salad and breadsticks are tasty.  Also, the eggplant parmigiana was far more deep fried than I had anticipated.

And check out how big the “small car” parking spots in Langley are:

IMG_1552 by Kalev.

I mean, I know my smart car is little, but you could easily have fit two of them in that spot – three if you’d parked them sideways!

After stuffing ourselves at the O.G., we decided to head home and on the way discovered a real, honest-to-goodness Baskin-Robbins store so, of course, we couldn’t resist the temptress that is Chocolate Mousse Royale ice cream.

And that, my friends, is how I spent my Saturday!