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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Adult Pirate Paks and Wineries

Today’s adventure’s included Adult Pirate Paks and wineries. They go together like peas in a pod.

First up, Adult Pirate Paks at White Spot for lunch:

Adult Pirate Pak Day at White Spot

I was a little weirded out by the chicken-mermaid on my Pirate Pak, but the veggie burger, coleslaw, and french fry deliciousness was more than enough to distract me:

Adult Pirate Pak at White Spot

Why would anyone think mer-chickens are a good idea?

After lunch we headed out to check out some of the local Okanagan wineries. First up: Volcanic Hills Estate Winery.

Wine Tasting at Volcanic Hills Winery

Volcanic Hills is a relatively new winery, having only been established in May 2010. I’ve never had any of their wines before, so we did a tasting – 4 wines for $2! Plus, if you buy a bottle, they waive the $2. Naturally, we had to buy a bottle. It was the fiscally responsible thing to do.

Then we headed up to the Mission Hill Family Estate Winery. I’ve had plenty of Mission Hill wines before, so we didn’t do a tasting, but just walked around the grounds instead. The estate – and the views – were pretty spectacular.

Misson Hill Pinot Noir grapes

At Misson Hill

Misson Hill

Misson Hill

I don't know what this thing is supposed to be

I don’t know what this thing is supposed to be, but I totally felt the need to copy it for a photo opp. And then some other chick totally copied me and did a photo opp too! I’m a trendsetter, obviously.

Mission Hill has a big bell tower with, not surprisingly, bells in it. But apparently one of the bells that they had cast for the bell tower was made too big and didn’t fit. So they placed it at ground level so that people could see how pretty the bells are. Also, you can knock on the bell and make the awesome bell tower bell noise. Which, of course, we did repeatedly. Bells are awesome.

Devon ringing the bell

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The Last Two Days In Oregon

Yesterday we decided to spent on the coast, because the coast is so freaking beautiful. First, we drove out to the Tillamook Cheese Factory, where we got to see how cheese is made, then Jeff & Madeline enjoyed some delicious Tillamook ice cream and I bought my bodyweight in cheese. We were amazed by how many people there were there – we didn’t even bother to stand in the line up for the cheese tasting, because it was ridiculously long and since every restaurant in Oregon seems to use Tillamook cheese, we’d tried enough of it to know that it’s freaking delicious! Next we went for lunch at a lovely restaurant on the water – I can’t remember the name of it, but the food was good and the view was awesome. Then it was off to the beach so Madeline could dip her toe in the ocean. By which I mean she could run and jump in the freezing cold waves for about an hour. It was so freaking cold that I had to wrap myself in towels to keep warm, but she was happy as a clam running through the water! On our way back from the coast, we decided to stop in downtown Portland so that we could (a) get espresso at Powell’s Bookstore,since it was the best espresso we’d had on our entire trip, and (b) have more Voodoo Doughnuts. As we started to head out of town, the vents of our rental car started to spew smoke and the car started chugging, so we had to pull off the road and call the rental car company. So boo to the car itself – a Nissan Versa – but kudos to the rental car company – Hertz – who sent a cab to pick us up and take us to our hotel, and sent a tow truck to pick up the car, and then brought us a new car to our hotel right away. Not exactly how we wanted to spend our evening, but at least they managed to get us home safely in pretty short order.

Today’s adventures started with a trip to see Multnomah Falls where we not only got to see the cool waterfall1, but they also happened to be having a kids’ festival. They had stations set up where kids could learn about things like the salmon lifecycle, how long different things take to biodegrade, and what different animal tracks look like. Kids got a stamp for every station they went to and, once they collected all their stamps, they got a free ice cream cone! Madeline, of course, loved all the learning about nature and the ice cream, but my favourite part was watching the parents. There was one woman who walked up to the salmon lifecycle exhibit and proceeded to tell her kids, “This is the salmon eggs, this is when it is a tadpole, this is when its a minnow and this is when it’s a full grown salmon.” WTF? At another station, the kids had to reach into a box, feel what was inside and try to guess what the item inside was. When the box was opened, they could see what it was and there was also a sign inside that described a bit about it. One of the items was really hard to guess and when the person running the exhibit opened the box, which contained a very large vertebra but had a sign that said, “Box turtle shell,” this same mother from the previous booth exclaimed, “A box turtle shell!” Now, a vertebra looks *nothing* like a turtle shell. The person running the exhibit proceeded to show the kids the vertebra, explaining what a vertebra is, how the spinal cord runs through the centre of it, etc. About a minute after the exhibitor finished her spiel about the vertebra, the mother exclaimed, “That’s not a box turtle shell?” At least she was trying harder than the next mother who came along and proceeded to open all the boxes, revealing what was inside them, completing ignoring the protest of the women running the exhibit who kept saying, “Don’t open them! The kids are supposed to feel inside the boxes and guess what’s in them! No!” Le sigh.

After the falls, we headed in to the town of Hood River, where we had lunch at a brew pub and where I also took this epic planking photo:

planking

What’s so awesome, of course, is that even though I’m planking on the rock, there’s a funny perspective that makes it look like I’m falling into the water right in front of a sign that says not to go in the water! We then celebrated this with a delicious espresso from Doppio, which turned out to have espresso that rivalled the deliciousness of the espresso at Powell’s Bookstore.

Next, since we were already in the Columbia Gorge, we figured why not check out a couple of wineries? We tried to go to the Mount Hood Winery, but it was closed for a wedding, so instead did wine tastings at Viento and Wy’east. The wines at Viento were OK, but I didn’t love them and they were somewhat overpriced, given that I know wine prices in the  US are generally much cheaper than in BC. I liked the wines at Wy’east – which is the Native American name for Mount Hood, in case you were wondering2 – much better and even bought a bottle of their Syrah, which has a berry-ish taste to start and then a peppery taste to finish! Nancy & Jeff bought a bottle of their Cloud Cap Select, a port-like dessert wine which smelled terrible, tasted great and then tasted even more amazing when you drank it along with some chocolate! Because just think of the antioxidants you’ll get from drinking red wine and eating dark chocolate!

By this point, I was pretty drunk, because we’d done two wine tasting with six wines each – that’s *twelve* wines! Plus, all the wineries were now closed. So we headed back to the hotel, where Jeff & Madeline went swimming while Nancy & I did a quick workout. Then it was off to our favourite Mexican restaurant – a little place near our hotel called El Sombrero. So. Freaking. Delicious. After that, a little dip in the hot tub to end our day!

  1. I don’t have any photos to share at the moment, because my camera batteries died, my iPhone camera sucks and so all the photos are on Jeff’s good camera but he’s asleep and I forgot to get the photos off his camera before he went to sleep []
  2. We were wondering, so we asked! []