Friday, June 28, 2013

Friday five: road foods that last (continued).

It's been raining for almost ten hours straight, so we had a short early day on the farm and then lots of time to sit.  After two Scrabble games, a few hours of long-overdue journal updates and photo organization, and some post-Ottawa planning... thoughts turned to food. 

So in prep for your next camping or road trip we bring you five foods that actually do *not* need refrigeration after opening, no matter what the package might say, in no particular order:
  • soy milk

    for early escapes

    in prep for long driving days

    cereal is king

    (Killarney Provincial Park, ON)
  • natural peanut butter

best when you combine
with chocolate and fire
at noisy campsites
(Golden, BC)
  • mustard
dijon or yellow
doesn't really matter much
if the view is nice
(Chase, BC)
  • cheddar cheese
beware of mossies
that get in your sandwiches
near Canada lakes
(Rainbow Falls Provincial Park, ON)
  • maple syrup
just add bananas,
raisins, dates, oatmeal, and flax...
best. breakfast. evah.
(Waterton Lakes NP, AB)

Or maybe they *do* need refrigeration and after two months on the road, we just have stomachs of steel.  Hard to know for sure.

Lettuce, on the other hand - for the love of all that is holy, refrigerate.

Sunday, June 23, 2013

Zero days.

Just ran across this timely article...  Timely because we spent most of yesterday doing a whole lot of nothing.  Which, coming from our multi-tasking, over-achieving, high-expectations society, was actually really difficult.

For better or worse, my project management knows no bounds.  I've generally been one to get up at sunrise with a list to ensure I make the most of the day; Patrick thankfully (generally) goes along with this.  Even during down time (yoga, movies, etc) our minds never seem to be fully focused or at rest.  True in Portland, definitely true for the past two months - we've constantly been on the go.  When we're WWOOFing we're either physically active or catching up online and/or researching our next locations, and when we aren't WWOOFing we are constantly moving to the next park or the next hike so that we don't miss out on any opportunities.  Once in a while a nap is required, but generally speaking we don't do a lot of sitting around. 

Yesterday it rained so we helped with the animals early in the morning and then had the rest of the day to ourselves.  After wandering in downtown Wakefield for a few hours enjoying their farmer's market, local cafe and shops, we headed back to the farm...  And read.  And played Scrabble.  And drank some tea.  And listened to the storm and the barnyard.

relax = at least 12 points

The down time that some people wish for every Saturday was an uncomfortable feeling for us.  This was partly because we are staying with farm hosts in an unfamiliar town and we're a bit out of our element, but also because it's just not our nature to relax.  So in between all those activities we'd look at each other and say, "hmm, now what?" 

We talked about what we'd be doing in Portland if we had a rainy Saturday to ourselves.  Chances are high that errands and food blog research/cooking and game night would have been involved, but it wouldn't have felt as lazy as yesterday. (See?  "Lazy."  Why did I use that word, instead of "restful" or "peaceful" or "rejuvenating"?)

Today's weather isn't looking much better, and when you add a late night of fun with our hosts the night before to the mix, I don't think there will be much activity today either.  That's good.  The farm has a new foal, a new calf, and several brand new chicks to admire.  There are goats to pet and play with.  There is a Scrabble rematch to be had.  There is a nap to be taken.  There's a Portland music mix to make for our hosts.

But there I go, planning again... sigh.

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Parks and recreation: Ontario.

Did we make the most of that almost-$100 hotel in Winnipeg?  In 12 hours we took two showers each, thoroughly scrubbed every dish we used over the last 10 days while not worrying about tick bites or non-potable water, got up early to maximize high speed internet, caught up on world news and Jon Stewart, and enjoyed first AND second free continental breakfast (oatmeal! peanut butter! orange juice! thank you, Queen Bee!).  So yes, you bet we did. 

And then Patrick found the magical dried food emporium that is Bulk Barn.  Thirty minutes and $40 in road snacks later...  Must!  Ration!  Almonds!  (But those raisins are already gone.)

Anyway.  Our first stop in Ontario was Minaki, just north of Lake of the Woods, where we stayed at Barber's Resort.  Jen met Peter and Traut Barber on her Antarctica expedition three years ago and had reached out a few months ago hoping to stop by for coffee and a chat as we crossed over into Ontario...  We ended up enjoying their amazing hospitality for two nights.  Once again we were completely overwhelmed with the generosity and friendliness of our northern neighbors, and we can only hope they visit Portland so that we can return the favor.

Gun Lake canoe ride
boat ride to picnic lunch

5am is calling...

After Minaki stayed a night in Kakabeka Falls Provincial Park...

allegedly rivaling Niagara Falls

... And finally - FINALLY! - we were in Thunder Bay.  Which we can't say without using our monster truck rally voices - Thunder ThunDER THUNDER BAY!!!

Turns out, Thunder Bay is not very exciting.

but there is a memorial to Terry Fox

So we pushed on to Pukaskwa (pu-ka-shwah) National Park.  Since it was Friday we were worried about the campsite being full for the weekend... Definitely not the case, unless you count the resident mossie population.

The park was lovely, the camp hosts were chatty, and the bunnies were adorable.

Friday evening meandering

superior indeed

5 miles to the White River suspension bridge...

...and 5 miles back

apropos of nothing, blackened tofu

Sunday we drove a million miles in an attempt to reach Killarney Provincial Park (one of Ontario Park's crowned jewels) at a reasonable hour.  Roadside attractions along the way included...

born in White River, who knew?

not pictured: giant poop

About 100 kilometers from Killarney, the weather turned foul and we begrudgingly stopped at a motel near Sudbury instead. 

tornado advisories have silver linings

In the end we only got about 24 hours in Killarney Provincial Park, but we made the most of our time...

hiking to The Crack, part one

hiking to The Crack, part two

hiking to The Crack, part three

nap time on the Georgian Bay

breakfast with a view

From Mount Galwey in Waterton Lakes National Park to Granite Ridge at Killarney Provincial Park - four provinces in 18 days.  I want to remember every single moment - the beauty, the fun, the excitement, and even the occasional frustration - but my brain feels full.  And we've only just begun.

and I would drive 5000 more
(preferably without a 'check engine' light)

We've also started to talk about how to ensure that we get our nature fix  in Eastern Europe.  The car is both a luxury and a burden right now and we are looking forward to having nothing but a backpack for our things, but it will definitely make side treks and mountain hikes more challenging.

For now, though, it's back to work with Nubian goats in Quebec (oui!)!  And possibly a plane ticket purchase in our near future...

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Parks and recreation: Manitoba.

But first, a digression: Dear Canada, we love you dearly but please do something about your tick situation.  They are mentally draining to two certain PNW folks who met someone recovering from Lyme's disease our first day in Canada...

Anyway.  A well-traveled BC backpacker at Grasslands had said that Riding Mountain National Park was the most rugged wilderness he had seen, so we were excited about our visit.

The guy at the welcome center told us that Wasagaming campsite was the most popular... "but judging from the looks of you guys, you want Lake Audy." 

good call, sir

We enjoyed a few thunderstorms in addition to nice sunsets and rainbows, and we got in some good hikes... er, "hikes".  Plains "hiking"  is a bit different than prairie "hiking" and neither are like actual "hiking".  Sunday we walked 11km along a flat fire road to a former POW camp, stood on a picnic table for lunch (to avoid ticks as much as possible), turned around and walked 11km back to camp.  Five and a half hours on our feet and the only wildlife sighting was a "forest chicken".  

"forest chicken"

plains "hiking"

there's a lake over there somewhere
if you want to bushwhack with ticks
(we didn't)

Monday's hike fared a bit better in terms of wildlife - three bears, a deer, and a faun on the trail, and 73 jackrabbits and another bear along the drive to/from the trailhead.  

But still totally flat with no real views and no typical reward at the end of the trail.  

our boggy, soggy  Breezy Hill hike "reward"

It was then that we reminded ourselves that it was about the journey, not the destination...  We are definitely spoiled with the beauty of the PNW but the rest of the world has lots to offer, you just have to know where (and how) to look for it.  So we breathed deep and enjoyed the lush green, the clean air, the birds and the frogs - in other words, the present.

A good lesson that bears repeating now and then.

he agrees

so does he

And so we will keep open minds and enjoy every experience, even if we are being carried off in bits and pieces by mossies now, or we are being ripped off by a taxi driver in five months, or we are trying to sleep in a noisy dorm full of drunken frat boys in eight months.  Or paying almost $100 for a much needed zero night in a hotel in Winnipeg, like tonight.

Because all of that beats Monday in a cube.  We know that much is true.

and actually, this was a nice reward along the Breezy Hill hike

Next stop: Minaki, Ontario to see some of Jen's Antarctica trek friends!

Parks and recreation: Saskatchewan.

but first: send someone to fetch us!

"Established in 1875 Fort Walsh would quickly become the most important, largest and most heavily armed fort the North West Mounted Police garrisoned during their early years in the West." More on this historic site here.

We intended to breeze through the exhibits but instead, decided to enjoy the free guided tour thanks to our Parks Canada Discovery Passes.  Lots of interesting history we certainly didn't learn about in school...

buildings rebuilt... perfectly resemble life in the late 1800s...

... and Patrick got to play Chief Sitting Bull in a treaty negotiation re-enactment

Next was Grasslands National Park for two nights of gorgeous big sky, open prairies, free roaming bison, prairie dogs, crazy birds that sound like R2D2 and boomerangs... and lots of mossies and ticks. 

Grasslands is a fairly new park and the only prairie national park in Canada.  While we probably won't go out of our way to visit again, we were definitely glad to experience this stark contrast to the jagged Rockies.  Hiking was definitely a different experience here - flat and vast, a whole new kind of beautiful.  

70 mile loop - at 923m the highest point in the park

prairie "hiking"

the mayor of prairie dog town

Once again, our experience on the bison ranch helped us enjoy the herds here even more.  These were free roaming bison that had been reintroduced to the park to help the population bounce back.

(bison also wandered within 150m of our tent Thursday morning)

spring on the prairie

big sky sunset

big sky sunrise

Friday's stop was St. Victor's Petroglyphs Provincial Historic Park.  Not a place we recommend going out of your way to visit, but one of only four vertical petroglyphs in Canada.  So pretty neat.

spot the face?

A quick stopover at Moose Mountain Provincial Park...

home of the fish fly
but it was warm and dry

And then to Manitoba!  Not sure about the "slowly" thing, but we're getting the hang of this "global" thing for sure.

Parks and recreation: Alberta.

After the bison farm we started our two week "vacation" at Torrington's much-anticipated Gopher Hole Museum.

it was all that we dreamed...

...and then some

Next we headed south to Head-Smashed-In Buffalo Jump, a world heritage site near Calgary.  The museum is excellent - well worth the cost of admission even with our frugal budget.  After our bison ranch experience we had a lot more context for these amazing animals and the historical significance of their almost-extinction, and we appreciated the exhibits even more so than if we had just happened upon the museum.

well disguised museum

bison landing spot

Our next stop was Waterton Lakes National Park, where we spent three (mostly) rainy nights and (mostly) overcast days exploring. The park was fairly empty, either because of the season, the weather, or both, and we were able to get in several peaceful hikes and restful yet raindrop-popcorn-on-tarp-induced sleeps.  Highlights included:

 hiking Mount Galwey on Patrick's birthday

campsite birthday dinner: bison burgers (thanks Judy & Peter!)...

... and quinoa chocolate cake (thanks Madeline!)

bears on the trail at Cameron Lake
(not pictured: bears)

Lineham Falls hike

morning grooming after breakfast by Waterton Lake

big horn sheep on Bears Hump hike

Tuesday morning we said goodbye to the Rockies for the last time (this round, anyway!) and headed to prairieland. 

Our first stop was Cypress Hills Provincial Park, where the campground was a bit sketchy but the bacon was DElicious. 



To be continued in Saskatchewan!