Thursday, 31 May 2012

Medicine Hat (Day 6)

Since Euri was in the garage getting an oil change, we decided that a walk was in order, especially after all the scrumptious food we have been eating since we have been here!!
Well, the day was bright and sunny so it was off to the Saamis Teepee, the world's tallest teepee.

Originally constructed for the Calgary 1988 Winter Olympics, the Saamis Tepee is a tribute to Canada’s native heritage. It towered above the Olympic caldron during the opening and closing ceremonies. Built entirely of steel with a concrete foundation, the tepee is ringed with 10 large circular story-boards depicting aspects of native culture and history. Below the tepee, in Seven Persons coulee, lays one of the Northern Plains archaeological sites - the Saamis Archaeological Site. This self-guided walking tour will show you one of the most important archaeological sites of the Northern Plains. The area was once a buffalo camp and meat processing site. Experts believe over 83 million artifacts are buried at the site. Wow!!!


Here's a few interesting facts for you:

Height: 215 Feet (65.5 Metres)
Diameter: 160 Feet at base (48.8 Metres) - 20,000 sq ft
Structure weight: 440,800 pounds (200 tonnes)
Foundation weight: 1,760,000 pounds (800 tonnes)

Built to withstand extreme temperatures and 150 mph winds.
Colors are white for purity, red for the rising and setting sun, and blue for flowing waters
Saamis is the Blackfoot word for eagle tail feather headress (or a hat worn by a Medicine Man also called a Medicine Hat - hey that's where we are!!)

There we are - really, really tiny!!

After some time at this great spot here, it was off to the trails below. Super pretty area. All to often, people just speed by these spots on the highway never stopping to appreciate what is out there!! All along the trails, there are little words written...just to make you stop and think!

Going into Seven Persons Coulee.....

...and under the highway to...

 Kin Coulee Park, a nice city park. It is 100 acres and is almost totally manicured!!

...and then it was way up the stairs to the other side of the park!!

Well, that pretty much wraps up our Medicine Hat visit. We had a great dinner at Duane & Agnes' place tonight. Grandma Beglaw, Kyle & Kristy, Diane & Brian and us all ate very well indeed!! Many thanks guys!!

From our hearts to yours:


Wednesday, 30 May 2012

Medicine Hat AB (Day 5)

Well, sorry for the delay. I think we were just plain tuckered out from all that driving (Doug was anyway). Also, it has just rained here off and on since we came so we have been laying pretty low!! we went to the Cypress Hills Vineyard & Winery in Maple Creek, SK. It was a really nice drive. Anyone who thinks that Saskatchewan is just flat and boring is wrong. It's very pretty (...and they are home to 'Rider Nation - a.k.a. Saskatchewan Roughriders of the CFL!!)

Maple Creek is about 1 hour east of Medicine Hat. Pretty typical small prairie town. Very homey feeling:

I love these types of signs! 

The Cypress Hills Vineyard & Winery is the brainchild and passion of Marty & Marie Bohnet. They have done a superb job of their tasting room, gift shop and bistro.

The landscaping is really pretty....and the sound of the birds, just incredible!!

Brian, Diane & Doug...

Now we are down to business!!

...what a nice tasting bar...

Tasting menu

There are six different types of fruit wines on the tasting menu right now. They are produced annually from grapes locally grown & imported and from local Saskatchewan fruit, also some blended together. I can tell you that we never have had Sour Cherry wine but we ended up leaving with a bottle and also we left with a bottle of Saskatoon Berry Wine as well. They are pretty darn good too!!

We like supporting local folks.....

Newly planted vines...

So, since we hadn't had any lunch yet, we just had to try their cheese, bread & fruit sampler:, which was fantastic. We sat outside and enjoyed the fine Saskatchewan sun and some fine Saskatchewan wine too!

....after-must have been hungry!!!

Surrounding property on the road out.....

This is a great place. Come on by. It is about 20 minutes south from Maple Creek SK, just off the TransCanada Hwy 1 - you won't be disappointed with the wines, property or the hospitality of Marty & Marie. Nice job guys!! 

So that's about it for the day. Special thanks to Diane & Brian for driving us out there. Boy did we have a nice time!!

Tomorrow, we hope to get out to see the giant teepee that Medicine Hat is known for!!

Until then, Cheers!! 

Sunday, 27 May 2012

Mexico Wrap-up

To say we loved our trip would be an understatement…..

There were so many things, so many stories to share it is hard to know where to begin. Our drive was amazing. One question we have been asked, over and over, is “Did we feel safe”. Our answer was an enthusiastic and definite “YES”. Never one time did we feel unsafe or unwelcome anywhere we went. The people were always welcoming, always willing to share, always patient with our lack of Spanish and very humble in what they thought was their lack of English (which was often much better than our Spanish!) To be honest, we did travel a bit cautiously. We did not drive at night but not because of any “bandidos” but because of animals on roads, just the animals…..

Many lessons were learned:
-Don’t use soap to wash lettuce.
-You can’t save every dog you see.
-Never underestimate the power of smiling, even if you don’t understand what someone is saying to you.
-The military checkpoints are set-up to help keep YOU safe.
-ALWAYS bring toilet paper WITH you to a new bathroom situation.
-Tequila can actually cure ALMOST anything.

-It is possible to love a donkey!
-Fruit check-points will ALWAYS take away your apples (even if they are from Washington state!)
-While riding on a quad, hang on with BOTH hands.

-It's okay to text message while riding a horse.
-Make-up is NOT required...
-Shorts and flip flops are.

-Children never care if you pronounce something wrong.

-Highway speed signs are more or less just guidelines.
-It is possible to wash an entire week’s worth of clothes, by hand, and live to tell the story!
-Always smile at beach vendors, even if you don’t buy anything. They are trying to make a living and will probably NEVER go anywhere for a vacation.

-Four people on a motorbike is allowed. 
-Driving in our van when it is 38 degrees C (106 F) is hot, even with BOTH windows down!
-Missing your family NEVER goes away.
But the number one lesson we learned is this: Possibly the GREATEST meal you will eat will include the owners kids sitting at your table with you (and maybe even their cat and/or dog) It may not be the best meal you ate, but what you take away from the experience will make it the GREATEST meal, ever…
We are going back for more great memories and we hope you can go there some day too to make your own memories!!

So, from us to you all, here's our hearts.Thanks for following us on our trip. We were ALWAYS glad for the company you all provided us. We hope you will continue to follow the blog. We are FAR from over this adventure of retirement!!

Butte MT to Medicine Hat AB (on Saturday)

We were on the road by 7:30 am this morning. We thought that, magically, we would look out the hotel window to see sunshine and palm trees but, sadly, that did not happen!! In fact, I even dug out my gloves. We thought it was funny that our trip started out like this weather-wise and it was ending like this too!

The drive is pretty nice, despite the fact that there was rather inclement weather. The mountain passes that you go through are quite spectacular looking. Beautiful rolling hills too with wide sweeping valleys.

Even a little wildlife!! (...they were out looking for the sun too!)

Hot chocolate break somewhere in the great state of Montana...

Almost at the US/Canada border...

Our border crossing at Coutts AB was uneventful (which was good) and soon we arrived in Medicine Hat at Doug's sister & brother-in-law's house, Diane & Brian Johnston. It was so good to see family again. We saw Doug's Mom, Helen, and his brother, Duane......

So we will be hanging out here until about Thursday (...or Fridy morning) OR until we wear out our welcome and get kicked out!! We plan on doing some nice walks in town on some of their trails so stay tuned for those!! After here, it will be off to Edmonton to see Teagan & Shawn....yeah, more family!!


Friday, 25 May 2012

Nephi UT to Butte MT

We left Nephi UT this morning about 8:00 am and headed for Butte, MT. That's right NO Yellowstone National Park. Seems that there is snow there for the entire Memorial Day weekend, culminating with a high on Monday of 39 degrees F. (which is about 4.5 degrees C). I am sure many campers heading there are disappointed (including us) but to be honest, it is just not something we want to do, camp in the snow. We are just heading back to Alberta right away. Seems that the next few days here in the northern part of US is going to be just crappy weather!!

The drive is very nice, with big sweeping valleys and mountains:

Mr. Sparky, just in case you need him...

Very pretty here, north and east of Salt Lake City, even if a little chilly!!

Whenever we are travelling like this, we stay only in hotels that give free breakfasts. Even though they are not fancy, they will give you that morning start and, being cheeky like I am, I always take a little for the road. A few pieces of fruit or a muffin or two......This makes a nice travelling lunch, even if you make it on your lap while on the move!!

Lunch at 60 miles per hour!!

So we kept on heading for Butte now because Yellowstone camping was out of the question in the snow.....Guess what we found on the way:

2.5 degrees Celsius (about 35 degrees F) and then this:

Yup, this isn't Mexico anymore!! How could we have fallen so far from the palm trees???

Then it got a bit better....until this:

Okay, we give up!! This is why we stopped in Butte, MT!! The other funny part of the story is that when we arrived here (of course, thinking that we could find that $60/night room....) is that there is a state-wide track and field meet, a baseball tournament and the Memorial Day weekend. We tried 3 different hotels and they were all sold out. We are now in the very nice Best Western-Butte Plaza Inn for a wonderful $125/night. Oh well, it's all an adventure!!

This is all part of the travel experience. Since we don't have a "big" motor home that we can hole up at a Wal-Mart type of place during this type of transit, we take these little bumps. I guess the "upside" of what we are doing with our Euri van is that our gas costs are quite a bit less than a "big" motor home. Not our choice to stay in a hotel when we were planning to stay in the van at Yellowstone and see "Old Faithful". We will plan a vacation to Yellowstone in the future and will give you all the full report. Just not sure "when" that will be, but it will be sooner than later!!

So, goodnight from Butte, MT. Tomorrow night, you will see us in the arms of family, again. We are really looking forward to that!! Medicine Hat, Alberta, here we come!!

Watch for our reports from there! There is lots to see and do in that great little prairie city!!