Canada

Towering Trees of Love

I’m taking it back a few years…

This photo was taken in Cathedral Grove, MacMillan Park on Vancouver Island, British Columbia. You’ll find it on the way to Tofino, but in between Port Alberni and Parksville.

It didn’t matter how much we tried or how wide our hugs were, this tree was never going to feel a full-embraced hug. That’s okay though, because these Douglas Firs have been receiving some loving hugs for the last 800 or so years of their life. That’s right, at LEAST 800 years that these trees have been around. Some of them might have even been longer! There’s no way to explain the feeling of these trees and this forest… It’s magical, but at the same time, you feel like you’re such a small part of the world. Just another ant!

If you plan to stop in Tofino, make sure you don’t miss your stop to take a hike at Cathedral Grove!

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Brad and I showing this monstrous Douglas Fir some love.

Categories: British Colombia, Canada, Travel, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Queen Elizabeth Park, Vancouver

This is the breathtaking Queen Elizabeth Park in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada. Endless gardens, sprouting tulips and floral scents coating the air; it truly is a wonderful place!

20160406_142023_HDRTulips sprouting up; their vivid colours bring so much life to the park.

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An indoor bio-dome;  housing humid weather and magical creatures.

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20160406_133352_HDROne of the entrance’s to Queen Elizabeth Park. That dome you see is an indoor eco-system; seen in the photos above.

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Crossing Canada; Ottawa and Manitoba

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Sometimes its just never enough time… You feel like your week is just getting started somewhere and before you know it, you’re packing your bags and waving your goodbyes. That’s how this past week was for Amy and I in Winnipeg, Manitoba – or should I say Winterpeg, Manisnowba.

We have officially started our three week vacation just over a week ago, starting in Ottawa, Ontario by visiting my parents and seeing a close friend to sailing through Canadian airspace over to Winnipeg to visit my much-missed and well-loved Grandparents, Uncles, Aunts and Cousins.
Just before I jump into my Winnipeg adventure, I need to share some exciting recommendations and places to see (that only locals know about), if you happen to be in the Ottawa region, that is.
First off, if you’re coming to Ottawa, don’t be scared to venture off across the Champlain Bridge and over into the unknown land of Quebec. Specifically, you’d be spending your time visiting my hometown: Aylmer, Quebec. It’s no more than a 10 minute drive over the Champlain Bridge and you don’t have to worry about being French language-equipped, most businesses are bilingual and will serve you in English without issues. If you’re into cute, cozy and relaxing cafés that aren’t run and managed by major franchises, then you must visit the “British Café”! This newly renovated cafe is armed with high quality coffee, freshly baked pastries, a loungy environment and well managed staff. If you’re into the bar scene, but enjoy tasting new beers from all over the world, then look no further than my favourite bar in Aylmer: ” L’autre Oeuil”, which translates to “The Other Eye” in English. This bar is incorporated into a historic but well-kept house but a modern and dimly-lit interior. The reason why people like this joint so much is because it offers roughly 300+ beers from around the world, both fresh on the tap and bottled and they are continuously adding in new selections to their menu, leaving you opportunities for new palatable experiences on every visit. Thirdly, for food, you must try “L’aubergiste”. This joint is run and owned by two professional chefs who create a new and fresh menu almost everyday to keep things interesting. When I visited last week, I indulged in one of the best poutines that I’ve ever had in my life; duck confit, local cheese curds and freshly sliced fries smothered in a homemade gravy recipe. If the province of Quebec could be transmuted into a fine dish, then this definitely was it!

My grandparents were adamant on showing us their favorite, local food joints within their home region just outside of Winnipeg, so that’s exactly what they did! Joey’s, Ricki’s, Roxie’s, Vickie’s, Half-Moon… You’d think I was reciting off a set of Santa’s new line of reindeer if you didn’t know any better! Out of all those joints, I’d have to highly recommend Roxie’s in Selkirk, Manitoba. We showed up on rib night (Saturday); I’m not usually a rib guy, but I decided to take a chance and see what this popular dish was all about. Well holy-rib o’mighty! Lemme tell you, I was in rib heaven! The meat was melting right off the bones and the apple-chipotle sauce was to die for! To kill time and have some fun in Manitoba, we LOVE to visit a popular casino & resort just North of Beausejour, Manitoba. We have fun gambling away at the newly installed slots and games, which do have pretty positive payouts when comparing to the Regent casino in Winnipeg (from our experience). Because this casino is a little farther from the city of Winnipeg, there is usually better parking and more breathing room in the casino. You shouldn’t have any problems finding a seat at your favourite gambling game.

Aside from fine dining and fun gambling, I had the pleasure to visit with some well-missed family. I’m very proud to see that my cousins are healthy, happy and successful; I look forward to seeing where their future brings them! I also consider myself very lucky to descend from such a healthy, smart and strong family.
At the end of the day, this isn’t a goodbye, but just a “see you soon”!

At this point in time, I am about to land in Calgary, Alberta for a transfer over to Abbotsford, British Columbia, where we will spend a week and a half visiting my family-in-law and my Brother who is currently stationed in Victoria, BC. I am very excited to see everyone and also, to practice my Spanish that I have been learning from scratch as of a few months ago.

Stay tuned for more photos, videos, travel tips, reviews, advice and adventures in British Columbia and beyond!

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Defrosting a Human in Winnipeg, Canada

Just arrived in Winnipeg (Winterpeg is more appropriate), Manitoba, Canada for a quick en-route stop to drop off some passengers and pick some up.
The province of Manitoba pretty much develops into a frozen wasteland throughout their long Winter months; you can’t survive for long out there without the proper gear and warm shelter. Most families and friends are grouping around a cozy fireplace while other are defrosting in Winnipeg’s newest outdoor spa, called “Thermëa”. While I can’t say exactly what the “Thermëa” spa experience is like, I can tell you what you’ll most likely expect as I have been to another spa called “La Nordik” in Chelsea, Quebec which is owned by the same company. I went to “La Nordik” countless times and they never cease to impress and relax me… Outdoor waterfalls (both cold and hot), steam rooms that smell like eucalyptus, relaxation rooms, professional-therapeutic massages, Swedish-style saunas, outdoor bonfires, heavily-salted and mineralized pools to replicate the Dead Sea, gourmet restaurant and so, so much more… So what are you waiting for? If you’re suffering the winter blues or simply just being frozen alive, come to Quebec or Winnipeg and defrost yourself in luxury while you still have the chance!

Thermëa Spa - Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada

Thermëa Spa – Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada

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Snow Capital of Canada!

I just landed in Ottawa, Ontario, Canada, which is the capital of Canada. Okay, may-be not the *snow* capital of our hockey-loving country, but there’s plenty of snow here… Enough for you to make all the snow angels you’ve always dreamed of! Eh? Time to take off to “Winterpeg” soon, where hell itself should be frozen over! Gonna be fun!

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Yellowknife, NWT, Canada

It’s dark, quiet and a frigid -30°C here in Yellowknife – Canada’s Northern frontier. Unfortunately it’s just a quick stop in to pick up some passengers, so I don’t have time to check out anything.
I heard that the Northern Lights are absolutely breathtaking here… I’ve never seen them myself, but can’t wait until the day that I do!

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Ice Fishing in Canada

Ever wondered what to do during a Canadian Winter? Ski, Snowboard, Ice Skate, Snowshoe, Sled, Dogsledding, Curling?

This is what I do:

That's me - Ice Fishing!

That’s me – Ice Fishing!

Ice Fishing!

It’s pretty simple, really; you make sure the lake is frozen – preferably over 3″ thick, so you don’t fall through. You then drill a hole with an “Auger”, manual or gas-powered:

Gas-Powered Auger

Gas-Powered Auger

Once you’ve drilled your hole, you clear the snow and ice from around and in the hole and then you’re ready to fish!

I’m no Ice Fishing expert; but the good news is, you don’t need to be one to enjoy this cold-Winter past-time! It’s a little bit of technique but even more luck. The fish are so cold, they won’t want to swim a lot, so you have to hope that you drilled a hole over some fish or at least close to them.

“Give a man a fish and you feed him for a day; teach a man to fish and you feed him for a lifetime.”

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Long Weekend in Ontario

Like the saying goes: “Time flies when you’re having fun”. Well, that’s true, but I also believe that time will fly even if you’re busy and not having fun, but thankfully, this past weekend was tons of fun!

For most people in Ontario, this weekend was a three day weekend because of a provincial holiday called “Civic Holiday”.
I didn’t waste any time this weekend. I started off Saturday having a Breakfast out with Amy at a local restaurant called “Dapp’s Restaurant”. The restaurant has been there forever and the base of clientele they have established is immense! Almost everyone that dines in is a “regular”.  I don’t think Amy and I are too far from attaining that title; maybe just need to age another 50 years or so first to gain some seniority. The price of food is excellent, with the most expensive Breakfast meal being around 12.50$ and the cheapest I remember seeing was around 6.95$; you don’t find many deals like that these days, most restaurants overprice all of their food, especially the orange juice, don’t even get me started with the orange juice! Several restaurants have a machine that mixes a concentrated-juicy syrup with water to produce what you call your Breakfast orange juice; there are no free refills and they charge you about 3$ for a medium sized glass. Redonkulous if you ask me…

After a delicious Breakfast, I walked over to “Riverside Music” for my 3rd Piano lesson; I want to be modest, but truly, I am catching on very fast to the theory and of course the practical portion of the instrument. Maybe its because I have so much interest in learning? At the moment, all I have is a simple 150$ keyboard, without a full set of keys and the keys themselves aren’t even weighted, I’m missing the pedals too. I was looking at the “Casio Privia 350BK”, I think that’s the name of it… Anyways, it seems like a good bang for my buck and it’s somewhat affordable for a person that doesn’t have thousands to dish out but is still serious about learning how to play the Piano.

To finish up Saturday, I headed over to a coworkers house with my good friend Jon for a surprise Birthday party hosted for her husband’s 40th birthday. I picked up a bottle of wine for him named “Guilty Men”, I thought it would give them some laughs for sure, I’ll have to find out tomorrow. It was a good night, complete with good people, good drinks, good food and good fun. Jon and I played “Horseshoes” against a few other people, but had our asses kicked every time; I don’t think the game was made for us at all, or maybe it was, but just to have our asses kicked at it all the time!

I woke up early on Sunday to get an early start on a day full of “Antiquing” with my good friend Jon. We headed out into a town called “Bloomfield” (sounds like a name out of a “Silent Hill” movie), to start our adventure and worked our way out to Picton to finish it. The entire time was spent in what’s called “Prince Edward County”, where many vineyards and microbreweries/craft breweries are located due to the outlay of the landscape and excellent conditions in the area. I didn’t really find anything other than a “Banana stand”, which really isn’t an antique to begin with, but there were several of treasures that I did run into that I couldn’t quite afford at the moment; perhaps next time I’ll come back with more treasures!

As soon as I returned home, I packed up my gym gear and biked down to CFB Trenton’s gymnasium for a lengthy workout of about two hours. The bike ride to the gym and back was just shy of 8km too.

Today, Amy and I drove out to Belleville in search of a new, high-quality frying pan. Yep, we destroyed our old crappy one from Zellers… Let’s just say you get what you pay for. This new one we bought is a brand called “Panderno”, it’s apparently a brand that’s used amongst the professionals in the cooking industry. The pan is obviously non-stick, you can stick it into the oven at up to 750 F and it has a 25 year warranty; I guess that alone shows that “Paderno” truly believes in the quality of their own product if they’re willing to give a warranty that will last so long. Did you know? Apparently cooking sprays such as “PAM” are not good for your pan, it damages it! Apparently it’s better to just use cooking oil and nothing else.

Amy and I just got back from the base’s outdoor pool; nothing like a refreshing swim on a hot and sunny day!

Well, time to practice on my Piano, the next lesson is tomorrow!

Categories: Canada, Ontario, Travel | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Transit

Today broke off the usual work routine; usually I’m in the office mission planning for flights or flying! Today was spent sitting in on several business meetings discussing various topics.

My generous neighbor once again has helped me out; this time he repaired my damaged bicycle to a ride-able condition, which to me, almost looks good as new! The bike itself was quite expensive, around 1000$, but that’s only pennies when talking about the professional bikes you can purchase for the avid bikers out there. Have I ever said that my neighbor is generous? Well, everything that he does for us, he never expects a dime for. He’s mowed our lawn on several occasions, fixed up some problems on my car and fixed my bike. All he asks for is the money for what the repair cost, nothing more. I decided to give him more money anyways, for his time and generosity; as I said in an earlier post, you don’t run into these kind’ve people everyday, so respect thy neighbor!
I decided to take my bike out for a spin for the first time in about two years. It was running almost as smooth as it was once I first bought it. Took a ride over to Canadian Tire to pick up a new bike lock, as I lost the key to the old lock, which is a total bummer, because I have a high-quality “Kryptonite” U-lock. I bought something similar and I hope the quality matches or surpasses what I paid for it. I’m not sure if theft is a problem in my town, I sure hope it isn’t… My Father had his bicycle stolen from him while it was locked up, by an office building at his work. The road that it was locked up by is quite a busy road, which I thought was weird how his bike got stolen in front of several citizens walking right by. I guess thieves these days are real experts at what they do, they always find a new way to get around and look for the “loop-hole”.

I think the community that I live in; Trenton, Ontario, is lacking in a few departments. First thing is, we don’t even have a bike path, let alone a bike lane for us to safely enjoy biking in. What are families supposed to do with their children? Bike on the side of the highway? Doesn’t sound very safe to me… Second thing is, Trenton lacks a proper transit system. Sure, Trenton is no major city, it’s just a town, but having a decent transit system would be extremely helpful at times, especially families that have only one car, but need to be in different destinations at different times, or lower-income citizens, which is prominent in this community. Sometimes I wonder if we are just lacking budget, creativity or demand for these simple ideas. I wonder if there’s a way I can find out…

Well, tomorrow is T.G.I.F and soon to be the start of a long weekend here in Canada; Monday is a day off because of the holiday called “Civic Holiday”. Not exactly sure what the meaning behind the day is… The meaning is probably meant to stay home and enjoy a day off, at least that’s the way I like to see it!

I’ve got my third piano lesson on Saturday and will probably spend a good portion of the weekend riding my bike, working out at the gym, maybe go for a swim at the pool if its warm and sunny outside.

Canadians, enjoy your long weekend and whoever else has the extra day off!

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Day out in Victoria, BC

My plane arrived at around midnight, so we took a taxi down to the “Royal Scot Hotel” where we stayed just for a night; straight to bed I went, I wanted to catch as much sleep as I could before venturing off into this beautiful city.
I woke up at about 0730hrs to enjoy a “West Coast Omelette” at “Jonathan’s Restaurant”; filled with shrimp, smoked salmon and topped off with Hollandaise sauce, I think I was in heaven! Man, do I ever miss the delicious seafood of British Colombia.

After my outstanding Breakfast, I took “Bus 6” down to the Naval Dockyard, which is where all the Canadian Navy ships rest, which includes my previous two ships: “HMCS Protecteur” and “HMCS Algonquin”. I walked onto the “HMCS Protecteur” and quietly made my way up to my old workplace where I surprised my buddies who are still working on the ship. When they looked at me, they glanced away and then quickly looked back. They must have thought they were hallucinating for a second, because they had no idea I was flying into the city. They were overjoyed to see me, just as I was to see them. These friends have helped me through the toughest of my times when I was living in Victoria, BC. They were true friends, always pushing their plans aside to help me out when I really needed it; these are the kind of friendships that you need to treasure and value for the rest of your lives, its not everyday you run into people like that. I stayed on the ship for just over an hour, wolfed down a bowl of “Cream of Chicken” soup for the Navy tradition of “Stand Easy”, which is at 1000hrs everyday, then made my way to the ship across from the “HMCS Protecteur”, which is the “HMCS Algonquin”. My awesome friend Jen, the one that we bumped into during my Vegas vacation was working “Quartermaster” duty. I paid her a surprise visit; it was really awesome to see that she is doing great overall and that she some awesome sails to look forward to!

Shortly after reminiscing with some amazing friends, I hopped onto a bus heading towards downtown to grab myself a delicious Lunch at one of the restaurants that serve the food that I miss most: “Azuma Sushi”. The sushi here in Trenton is overpriced and definitely not up to the standard of quality that you will find on the West Coast of Canada. I had a “Spicy Salmon Roll” and a “Yam Roll” with a bowl of brown rice topped with roasted sesame sauce on the side. The bill only ran up to 12.95$, now THAT’S a VERY fair price, especially for quality food!

I didn’t have a lot of time to spend in Victoria, so I slowly walked back to my hotel, grabbing a “Spanish Latte” at one of my favorite Cafes: “Dolce Vita”. What really impresses me about “Dolce Vita” is how they create coffee art in your drink. They actually construct some sort of complex pattern in your coffee; it looks so nice you almost don’t want to drink it! Don’t worry though, I don’t know how they do it, but somehow when you sip back your delicious drink, the pattern doesn’t disappear, it stays right to the bottom of the cup!

Well, I’m back home in Trenton now, but not for long! I’ll have another adventure shortly for you to read up on, just keep your eyes peeled!

Tomorrow, I start my first Piano lesson, I’m also hitting up the gym with Amy first thing tomorrow morning too. Nothing like a fresh start to your day!

Dolce Vita Coffee Art

Dolce Vita Coffee Art

Categories: British Colombia, Canada, Travel | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

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