Tri-Cities: Washington's Big Bang City!

For many, summer is synonymous with road trips. Somewhat contrarians that we are, fall and spring spell roadtripping for us.  Too often when on a road trip, the tendency is to focus on the destination, instead of the journey.  We like to make a habit of stopping at one or two off-the-highway towns and cities every day when travelling. 

One of the highlights of our 8,907 km, six week, USA Fall 2013 road trip was our stay in Pasco, Kennewick and Richland (PKR) aka Washington’s Tri-Cities.  Though not on our list of specific places to visit, we decided to get off the interstate and explore.  The next thing we knew, three days were spent exploring these cities and their surroundings.  We were very lucky fortunate it happened to be was a Friday, Saturday and Sunday (keep reading to find out why).

Where to stay?

As luck would have it, we found the Red Lion Hotel Richland Hanford House conveniently located just off the highway and right on the Columbia River.  Check in was quick and we had a great room with view of the river and the park.  It was an easy walk from there to The Parkway (downtown Richland) with its boutiques, restaurants and even a great cinema. The backyard of the hotel was the mighty Columbia River and its walkway.  There is even the Columbia Point golf course just down the road.

Mornings

Check out the farmers’ market - on Fridays, The Parkway street is closed from 9 am to 1 pm when it transforms into a farmers’ market from early June until the end of October. This popular market attracts thousands of locals and tourists; this year’s opening day attracted a record 5,000 visitors alone. So, get there early. 

Richland's downtown farmers' market

We had never seen golden raspberries before. It was weird as they tasted pretty much the same as the red ones.

Pasco’s Farmers’ Market is more traditional. It’s long, open-air pavilion structure allows vendors to sell right out of their trucks. Located in downtown Pasco, a city with a rich Hispanic culture, the market has an authentic farmers’ atmosphere – everything is definitely fresh from the field.  The market also has a carnival feel with lots of fun, kid activities. Markets here are Wednesday (8 am to 1 pm) and Saturdays (8 am to 12 pm) from early May to late October. While at the market, make sure to take some time to explore its downtown - great windows!

Pasco's Farmers Market consists of two open-air structures. 

We loved window licking in downtown Pasco.  The windows were as good as we have seen in Paris, Chicago or New York City. 

You won't find this in Paris or London. 

The windows were like works of art.

Another morning activity would be to check out Country Mercantile on Crestloch Road in Pasco just north of the airport.  In many ways this family-owned and operated food store it is like a market, offering lots of fresh produce, as well a gourmet jellies, sauces, honey and fresh baked goods an amazing selection of handmade fudge and chocolate – even homemade salsa chips, tamales and enchiladas There is also a deli bistro area for lunch if you so choose.  Country Mercantile would be good to combine with Pasco Farmer’s Market, especially for foodies. If you are travelling with kids this is definitely a place to go at they have mazes, rides and other family activities. 

  Country Mercantile store.

Country Mercantile store.

  Candy apples anyone?

Candy apples anyone?

  Hay bale maze

Hay bale maze

Vintage children rides.

One of the things locals love to do in the morning (before it gets too hot) is to hike up Badger Mountain.  Water sports are also popular in the morning as you can beat the crowds. Hiking and biking trails are everywhere, in Chamna National Preserve there is the Amon Basin, Tapteal Bend and Tapteal Trail.  There is also the Sacagawea Heritage Tail - a 23 mile paved waterfront trail system that links all three cities. 

A good website to check for outdoor activities and organized tours is The Reach where you will find things like “Hops to Bottle”, “Farm to Table” and Jet Boat History tours of the Columbia River. 

Sacagawea Heritage Trail just behind the Red Lion Hotel Richland Hanford House. Note the tourists enjoying the swinging bench that allow you to watch people along the trail and the river. 

While walking along the trail we heard some music so we wandered towards it and found a Saturday afternoon "sock hop" at a fun 50s style diner. Very cool!

Afternoons

An obvious “must do” is the Red Mountain Wine tour. Do your own tour or book an organized tour and let someone else do the driving.  Red Mountain is one of the smallest American Viticultural Areas (AVA) at only 4,040 acres, yet it offers 24 different wineries for touring and tasting.  It has a very distinctive climate with very warm days, but cool evenings (due to the sharp bend in the Yakima River and the shadows of the Red Mountain). It is well known for growing some of the best Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon and Syrah grapes not only in Washington, but in the entire USA.  More information can be found at www.redmountainava.com

If you are really into wines, we recommend staying on the mountain. There are several options but our recommendation would be one of the two cottages at Tapteil Vineyard Winery.

Entrance to the lovely Terra Blanca Winery & Estate Vineyard at Red Mountain. 

Terra Blanca's underground storage. 

Terra Blanca's million dollar view.

This is the patio at the Tapteil Vineyard Winery with one of the cottages below that you can rent.  

If you don’t have time to drive out to Red Mountain, Tulip Lane in Kennewick offers a great alternative with its three lovely wineries –Tagaris, Barnard Griffin and Bookwalter.  Spend a lovely afternoon wandering the vineyards and tasting the wines.  We did and it truly was lovely.

The ceiling of the Barnard Griffin Winery is decorate with this colourful and playful ameba-like clouds.  On Saturday nights you can enjoy the wine and live music. 

The Uptown Plaza, in Richland is a hidden gem; you won’t read about this in any tourist information.  A retro ‘60s outdoor shopping plaza, it has been reborn as an antique/vintage mall. For any “treasure hunter,” this is the place to go for a half-day of browsing heaven. Caution: don’t go in the morning as some of the shops don’t open until later in the day.

Uptown Plaza's vintage signage with the atomic particles on top. Everything is about the atom.

Becky's is just one of several second hand stores that sell everything including the kitchen sink. 

Brenda is going in....

The Uptown Plaza is also home to Desserts by Kelly

The Atomic Bombe Cake is to die for...literally!

A trip to the Tri-Cities wouldn’t be complete without a visit to the Hanford Site, a decommissioned nuclear production site just outside Richland.   Established in 1943 as part of the Manhattan Project, it is the site of the first, full-scale plutonium production reactor and is where the plutonium was made for the atomic bomb that detonated over Nagasaki, Japan in 1945.

This September the B Reactor celebrates it's 70th birthday. Information on celebration programs will be posted at http://www.ourhanfordhistory.org/

Tours of the B Reactor are available on specific days throughout the summer.  Check the website http://manhattanprojectbreactor.hanford.gov/ beforehand. (Note: All tour participants must be 12 years of age to participate and if under 18, a parent/guardian must sign a release form).

The Hanford site is also home to other centres for scientific research including the LIGO Hanford Observatory where they are trying to observe gravitational waves of cosmic origin that were first predicted by Einstein’s general theory of relativity.  If you have a budding Sheldon (Big Bang Theory) in your family, this is a “must do.” We did and my head is still spinning with talk of neutron stars, black holes, cosmic gravitational waves, ultra high vacuum systems and interferometers.  Unfortunately, public tours happen only on the second Saturday and fourth Friday of the month, so you plan your visit carefully – we were just lucky.

I am not even going to try to explain what this is. On the LIGO tour I thought I understood what they were trying to do, but afterwards my understanding just evaporated.  This is stuff for the Big Bang Theory boys!

Inside the LiGO laboratory.

Just a little computer capacity. 

It is like something from a science fiction movie.

Evenings & Eats

We’d suggest that you plan for long leisurely dinners as part of your Tri-City visit.  Our best find for fine dining was at the JBistro at the Bookwalter Winery along Tulip Lane. Offering both indoor and outdoor dining, the atmosphere can be both, casual or romantic (especially by the fire pits) and there is live music Wednesday to Saturday. The signature dish is their Wagyu ribeye, served with the Truffle set (truffle butter, black truffle salt and white truffle oil) for dipping.  If the Copper River salmon is on the menu it will be a mouthwatering choice and the Crème Brulee satisfied even my “sweet tooth.”

Cheese Louise is a great lunch spot along The Parkway in Richland. I loved my grilled Apple & Brie Panini and Brenda couldn’t stop raving about her Cranberry Bleu Salad. This is also a great place to create your own gourmet picnic lunch with a good selection of cheeses, breads, seasonal fruit and vegetables, as well as drinks.  The staff (aka cheese mongrels) are happy to help create your custom picnic.

Cheese Louise 

Spudnut (you gotta love the name) is the “must do” place for breakfast or lunch.  This 60-year old donut shop with a difference (donuts are made with potato flower) is located in the Uptown Plaza so go for a donut brunch and then browse the shops in the early afternoon.  Don’t be surprised if you have to share your table with a huge tray of donuts either!

How many donuts would you like sir?

Atomic Ale Brewpub & Eatery offers a great family ambience, complete with a selection of board games.  We went on a Sunday night and it was great people- watching fun.  The food and brews were great with wood-fired pizzas, an Atomic Giant Soft Pretzel in the symbol of an atom with orbiting electrons, Atomic Ale’D Red Potato soup and B-Reactor Brownie caught our eye and didn’t disappoint.

Atomic Ale Brewpub & Eatery offers some unique beers.

Even the pretzels reference the atomic age.

Frost Me Sweet is a quaint bistro in Richland best known best for its cupcakes but has a good and varied menu. The people-watching here is spectacular too.

Last Word:

If you love wine, food and are into the Big Bang Theory TV show like we are, Washington’s Tri-Cities is a must place to visit.  For more info go to Visit Tri-Cities.

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Unbelievable: 20,000 Petroglyphs in Albuquerque

By Richard White, April 15, 2014

The petroglyphs at Petroglyphs National Monument (PNM) on the western edge of Albuquerque (ABQ) are unbelievable - in quantity, quality and accessibility.  Though we had read that there are 20,000+ petroglyphs, but being the skeptics we are, we didn’t expect to see hundreds of them in a matter of minutes.  In fact, Brenda spotted one just a few steps onto the first trail that most people were just walking by. While there are 20,000+ petroglyphs in the park, only about 500+ are available to the public via the designated walking trails.

Not only were the petroglyphs everywhere, but you can walk right up to them (look but don’t touch) and take as many photos as you wish from any angle you like. No security here!

PNM is billed as an outdoor gallery and it definitely lives up to that billing with lots of interpretive panels re: history, geology and vegetation.  You can spend 30 minutes, one hour, or more than 3 hours depending on your interest. 

The quality of the images is also amazing. Some look as if they were just done yesterday, only a few have faded or become worn over time. Its hard to believe Archeologists estimate that most of these images were done 400 to 700 years ago, some may even be as old as 2,000 to 3,000 years. Petroglyphs are rock carvings (rock paintings are called pictographs) made by pecking directly on the rock surface using a stone chisel. When the "desert varnish" on the surface of the rock was pecked off, the lighter rock underneath was exposed, creating the petroglyph. It is estimated 90% of the petroglyphs in PNM were created by the ancestors of today's Pueblo Indians. Puebloans have lived in the Rio Grande Valley since before 500 A.D.

Beginning in the 1600s Hispanic heirs of the Atrisco Land Grant carved crosses and livestock brands into the rocks. Other explorers in the 1800s chiseled their names and dates into the boulders. Walking the trails and studying these petroglyphs gives you a chance to contemplate the cultural continuity of human history.

There are three petroglyph sites in PNM – Boca Negra Canyon, Piedras Marcadas Canyon and Rinconda Canyon (the latter is currently under renovation after trails were destroyed by a fall 2013 storm).  Strangely, the Visitor Centre is located at a separate site all be it near the Boca Negra Canyon site. It is recommended you stop there and pick up the brochures with maps however. 

Most people start their tour at Boca Negra Canyon (BNC) which has two trails, one that is more difficult as you climb to the top of the mesa on a trail full of rocks imbedded in the asphalt. It is not stroller or wheelchair accessible. The second trail is a short, 15-minute loop walk with not much elevation change. 

BNC is both a good climb for families and a history lesson about petroglyphs, geology and native vegetation. Kids relate to the child-like images and love to draw them so bring a sketchpad.  Also, wear running or hiking shoes (flip-flops and sandals not advised) as you will want to climb some of the rocks.  The volcanic rocks are easy to climb - not too large, flat-sided and don’t shift when you step on them. 

Also there is a fun 5-minute trail where you get to walk in the arroyos dry wash (sandy river bed) to a picnic area, then a boardwalk before reaching the next trail.

After about an hour at BNC, we headed to Piederas Marcadas Canyon (PMC) which is an 10-minute, well marked drive.  Don’t be surprised when you have to park behind a gas station and cupcake bakery!  PMC is very different from BNC as you are in a city park with lots of trails and you are free to go anywhere you want. There is a marked trail however with six stops where you will find a concentration of visible petroglyphs. Again, don't touch. The brochure challenges you to find one specific petroglyph as per the photo at each of the six stops - a fun activity for all ages. Or, you could play “I spy with my little eye, a petroglyph with….”

You could spend an hour or more exploring PMC. There are lots of rocks to climb and petroglyphs to find.

Here is our photo essay of Petroglyphs National Monument. 

Note the bullet holes that have damaged these petroglyphs. Given the area is open to the public it is surprising how clean it is, no graffiti, no litter or bottles.  

This is our path back to the 21st century.

Footnotes:

On one level, there is an eerie surrealism about this sacred place of sand and black rocks.  On another level, it is bit like walking into a kindergarten classroom or maybe along a city sidewalk where children have been let loose with a box of sidewalk chalk. There is something primordial and familiar about the images and symbols; they are part of the human psyche.

For more information, click here for Petroglyphs National Monument's website.

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Desert Botanical Garden: Right Place, Right Time

Brenda White, April 3, 2014

It all started when I hopped off the Red Lion (Tempe's) shuttle bus at Phoenix's Desert Botanical Garden (DBG) entrance at 9:15 am.  

Dollar off coupon in hand, I was expecting to get in for $19 and had my money ready.  Except, I was intercepted by a ticket scalper of sorts, who turned out to be a mid-50s, university women's group member who had an extra ticket as one member couldn't make it. She was willing to sell me the extra ticket for $12. I was a bit hesitant so I asked if I could go in with the group and pay her once inside - she agreed.  All went smoothly, so I paid her $12 and pocketed the other $7. Right place; right time. I was invited to join the group for their tour, but chose to say "goodbye" to my new university friends and went off on my merry way. 

It was quiet even though the garden opened at 8 am and I was quickly (and nicely) intercepted by a DBG volunteer who graciously offered to advise me on how to best make use of my two hours (I had arranged for a shuttle to pick-up at 11:30). She told me what loops to take and to make sure I went to all of the sculpture icons on the map as they indicated the location of the Chihuly glass sculptures. Again, right place; right time.

Dale Chihuly is one of the world's best known glass artists. He has one permanent artwork in the garden from his previous exhibition at DBG but I was fortunate to arrive while his second exhibition of 20 new works was on (it closes May 18, 2014).  Chihuly's large scale, neon-like abstract sculptures are definitely inspired by the colour and shape of the many different cacti and wild flowers in the gardens.  The synergy between art and nature was amazing. Once again, I was in the right place, at the right time. 

For one who has suffered from a lifelong case of being navigationally challenged, I impressed myself with not getting lost amongst the many loops and trails in the 140-acre garden site, luckily only 55-acres are in use for the trails. The reason - great signage and an insider tip from a stranger to always look for the paved path.  She said, "the paved path is the main one, so always default to if you lose your way."  The gravel paths are not long and are circular so just keep going and you "hit" pavement again. For a fourth time, right place; right time. 

I was also told by another local that early April is probably the best time to come as many of the wild flowers and cacti are in bloom.  Early morning is also the best time to visit, as it is cooler, less windy and fewer people. I also lucked out that the weather the day I chose was warm and sunny with almost no wind (that is not always the case I was told). Right place; right time.

I felt a little silly taking 150+ photos but it just seemed everywhere I turned, I was in the right place at the right time to capture the interplay of the intense colour, the early morning light, and shadows that make the garden so special.  I have never taken 150 pictures in one month let alone one day in my life.  

Here are a few of my favourite photos.  Now I will focus my attention on finding a funky $7 Spring Break 2014 road trip souvenir - hopefully I can be in the right place, at the right time again.    

desert red flower.jpg

Chihuly: Abstracting from nature

desert yellow flower close up.jpg

Postcards: Emerald Pools & Wilderness Area Trails, Zion National Park

By Richard White, March 23, 2014

After yesterday's hiking the Canyon Lookout Trail in Zion National Park, Utah we decided to check out some other trails in the park today.  In the morning, we did the Emerald Pools Trail (lower, middle and upper) and then headed to the Zion National Park wilderness area where there are less people and we were told some easy to moderate hikes for beginners. 

We were also told to get there before 10 am as there is limited parking.  So we were up early for breakfast and to check-out.  It was cool and windy and we were wondering if hiking so early was a good idea - we are fair weather hikers at best.  However, at the Park Gate we were told that as the air warms, the winds would die down within the hour.  He didn't lie - it was a beautiful morning for a hike.  Not sure how people do it in the summer when the temperature is over 30 degrees Celsius almost daily.   

Postcards: Emerald Pools Trail

While yesterday's postcards spoke for themselves, I think these postcards do need some context. For example, there are not emerald-coloured pools on the Emerald Pools Trail. 

I was intrigued by this rock wall that looked like it had a huge head etched into it. Can you see it just to the right of the big black, tree-like shadow?

This is one of the many rock steps that you have to negotiate on the trail up and down.  It is challenging to balance the need to look where you are walking while looking at the rock formations above.

I loved the light through this gap. The rock on the right looks like it has the lips of a tuna. 

Again. the bright light created intense shadows and colours that are very surreal.

  This is a close up of the water that trickles out of the rocks at the upper pool.

This is a close up of the water that trickles out of the rocks at the upper pool.

One of several small waterfalls we experienced on our hike. Again, the bright light and the water combine to create a surreal image.

Postcards: People On The Trail

The Emerald Pools hike is popular for people of all ages and fitness levels. This postcard is under the largest waterfall where you can feel the mist and some water falling.  It was refreshing on a hot day in March; I can only imagine how welcomed it would be in the summer.

Other people found a quiet place to relax and meditate. 

  We also found this 19-month old who was busy colouring while Dad carried her up the trail.  However, we were told she had hiked on her own another trail the day before. 

We also found this 19-month old who was busy colouring while Dad carried her up the trail.  However, we were told she had hiked on her own another trail the day before. 

Some people aren't satisfied just looking at the rock formations, they have to climb them.  Look for the climber in orange helmet about two thirds of the way up in the crack of the rock in the middle of the photo.

Postcards: Zion Wilderness Area

From the parking lot, you see an eerie vista of a meadow of dead-looking, stunted trees surrounded by a luminous red rock wall.  

As you get to the trail head, you get closer to the wall of rocks and the savanna of small, twisted and stunted trees. 

An example of the shedding bark of the one of the larger trees.

Just a few minutes on the trail, you encounter this sign. Indeed, it does feel like you are entering a wilderness; you feel like you are leaving the world behind. At this time of year, the landscape of dead-looking trees creates an eerie setting.  

As you proceed along the trail, you encounter beehive-shaped rock formations that are deeply etched horizontally by the elements.

The constant struggle to survive was never more evident than in this tree growing near the top of this beehive formation.

These mushroom-like growths, no more than a foot-long protruded off the side of the beehive. You could spend an hour exploring just one beehive.  

This six-foot abstract sculpture was hidden in a crevice in the rock formation.   

  As you get closer to the rocks, they become more and more abstract and intense in colour, shape and line.

As you get closer to the rocks, they become more and more abstract and intense in colour, shape and line.

Last Word

I think we lucked out in visiting Zion National Park in late March as the weather was cool in the morning, but quickly heated up by 11 am.  By April, you are already getting temperatures of +30 Celsius in the afternoon.  

We also lucked out in that we could take our own car to wherever we wanted to hike and then move on.  Beginning in April, you have to take the Park's shuttle bus rather than your car as there are so many people visiting and limited parking.  It would not be the same experience with so many people and buses. 

If you are traveling in the area of Zion National Park, consider booking a night or two in Springdale and plan a couple of fun hikes or maybe a bike, horse or tube ride.  

I also think the light was wonderful in the spring. The southerly sun was low enough to get into of the caves and gaps, which wouldn't be the case in the summer when the sun is more overhead. The combination of the coloured rock and the intense sun had a magical synergy.  I can see why the indigenous people would see this as a sacred place.

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Postcards: Canyon Lookout Trail, Zion National Park

Richard White, March 22, 2014

I am not a professional photographer, but I love taking pictures and love looking at them.  I know I should be editing my collection of over 20,000 images, but I love to surf through them as they immediately bring back great memories. 

I also not an experienced hiker. In fact, most of my hiking is done on golf courses looking for my ball that has gone into the woods (this happens far more often than I would like).  However, when you are in Utah, you have to get our and enjoy the great outdoors.  People were shocked when I was in Salt Lake City and I said I wasn't going skiing.  I didn't know the only reason to go to Salt Lake City was to ski. 

Yes, I live in Calgary, next to one of the world's greatest parks - Banff National Park, but I seldom go.  I also have access to thousands of world class hiking trails and every year I threaten to go hiking, but I never do.  Just like I say I am going to bike more but don't.   

What is it about travelling that makes you do things you would never do a home?  People who never go to an art gallery or museum at home don't hesitate to visit them when they are in New York, London or Paris.  As soon as we hit the colourful sculpture-like peaks of Zion National Park, I was keen to jump out of the car and explore.

The first trail we came to was the Canyon Overlook Trail, so I quickly pulled over and off we went.  The trail an easy one - we saw everyone from a young children in flip-flops negotiating the rock steps and the narrow cliff trails to a young mom carrying a young child.

The trail is about a mile and leads you up to a lookout spot where as you might expect you can see the Virgin River canyon.  Along the way, you enter caves see hoodoos as well as colourful rock formations.  

Here are my postcards from my first hike in 2014 and perhaps a new take on flaneuring for the "Everyday Tourist."  These photographs don't need any explanation they speak for themselves. 

 

Last Word

Sorry I lied. Brenda reminded me I went to two hikes last year, both in Canmore, Alberta. One was a summer hike to Grassi Lake and the other was a winter walk around the pond at the Olympic Nordic Centre. I liked today's hike in Zion National Park so much we have planned two hikes for tomorrow.

However, that will probably be the end of the hiking, as we head to St. George, UT and the golf courses there are open and in mid-season shape.  Bring on the Red Rock Golf Trail!

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ON the beaten path with Yaktrax

By Richard White, January 4, 2014

What started off as a snowshoeing adventure turned into a Yaktrax walk.  Plans for a four-hour mountain snowshoeing expedition for three virgin snowshoers began to fall apart when everyone warned us that “maybe it isn’t a good idea to go for a four- hour walk your first time out.” Then one of our group had a bit of a health issue and we quickly decided maybe a regular walk in the mountains would be a better idea.

However, not wanting to be “expedition escapees” we opted to take a hike in the mountains without snowshoes.   Our fourth member, who is the hiker and beginner snowshoe guide for our group, suggested we all get Yaktrax and then find a “beaten path” somewhat “off the beaten” path so we could at least experience some of that “Rocky Mountain” high we had been hoping for.

A quick trip into lovely downtown Canmore and we were all equipped with our Yaktraxs.

Canmore is the gateway to the Canadian Rockies and a mountain playground for international tourists, Albertans and especially Calgarians. 

Illustration of Yaktrax and how they work. 

Yaktrax yak!

Yaktrax, named after the sure-footed “Tibetan yak” are light-weight ice grips worn over your regular walking shoes, winter boots or running shoes when walking on packed snow and ice in the winter.  Or as our witty teammate said: “These are kinda like the old rubbers my Dad use to wear!”  Not quite – yes they do pull over any shoes - but they have coils on the bottom that provide hundreds of biting edges that sink into the snow or ice to give you traction. 

Yaktraxs were originally conceptualized when an outdoor adventurer, exploring the Himalayas, encountered a seasoned Sherpa striding confidently across the slick, icy surface using metal ice grips attached to his boots.  

Our companions got the PRO model with the Velcro straps…nothing but the best for our big spender friends. We opted for the cheaper Yaktrax Walkers model being the frugal flaneurs we are.

One option was to ditch the snowshoeing or walking and go skating as Canmore has a great skating pond.  However, we were looking for some adventure - we did go skating the next day.

The Canmore Nordic Centre was a winter wonderland for cross country skiers but we were just looking for a place to go for a walk. 

Let the Flaneuring Begin

We then headed to the Canmore Nordic Centre to see what suggestions they might have for a walk “ON” a beaten path in mountains. We quickly realized we could walk the service road around the nearby TransAlta hydro reservoir to the base of the Grassi Lakes Trail, a walk we had done this past summer.  The info guy at the Nordic Centre confirmed that we could walk around the reservoir in about 2 hours – perfect for us.

We really didn’t need the Yaktrax for the first 10 or 15 minutes, but soon we were in the snow and ice and yes, they do work.  It was almost as if we had been transformed into Rocky Mountain Bighorn sheep, i.e. the Canadian version of the Tibetan Yak, as we trekked into the base of the mountain trail.

The flaneuring took us to the TransAlta Hydro plant with the cascading waterfall and icefalls.  We saw some ice climbers that we would have liked to check out more closely but the path was “unbeaten,” and we weren’t up for testing the Yaktrax’s vertical climbing coefficient - horizontal and hilly traction was good enough for us. 

Simca?

Near the end, two members of our expedition ventured “off the beaten path” (feeling confident the Yaktraxs would work even in powder snow) to check out a dead Simca.  How did a European vehicle end up in the bush in the Rockies?  Guess we will never know. After some oohing and aahing over the still shiny chrome bumpers and door handles it was time to move on.

Just minutes later they were off the beaten track again, this time to check out the tree house in the woods… a lovely two-story home, with wall-to-wall carpeting, a nice ladder, great views of the forest and no neighbours. A little further on, we encountered up close and personal two deer crossing right in front of us.

The walk was a photographer's dream with lots of material to work with, from realism to abstraction.  I wish I had a good camera. 

 

The service road almost looked too easy, but the vista was calling us. 

   Soon we were scrambling in the mountain forest with babbling brooks.  

Soon we were scrambling in the mountain forest with babbling brooks.  

   The ice formations were like abstract sculptures.  

The ice formations were like abstract sculptures. 

The man-made Simca seemed totally out of place in the park. It definitely needed to be inspected. 

The shiny door handles looked brand new...how could that be given the shape the rest of the vehicle was in. 

The trunk lock was in perfect condition. It was very surreal!

Definitely a handyman's fixer-upper!

The trail has some great photo ops! 

It doesn't get any better than this.

Stay on Trax

The two hours went by quickly and the Yaktrax passed their test walk with flying colours.  We are all now keen to test them out on urban walks.

As for the Everyday Tourists, we are now ready for our two-week dog sitting assignment in early January that will include two - sometimes three walks - a day along the icy promenade at River Park. 

Yes, sometimes it is perfectly OK to stay “on the beaten path.” 

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Grassi Lakes Treasure Hunting

Why Don't Calgarians embrace winter? Or do we?

A 1600 km shoe shopping weekend!

Meeting Creek Ghost Town meets Art Town