The Sixth Day of Christmas: Gift Ideas for the Travel Lover

You have to look good while traveling, right?

I love visiting these sites once in a while to “window shop” my afternoon away…

Simon’s – a Canadian company

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Joe Fresh – another Canadian company!

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Hudson Bay Company – yet again, another Canadian company…I sense a theme.

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Your vote!

Top 5: Roads for Cruisin’

I am a big road trip fan, and I always need to be the one behind the wheel (except when driving a manual transmission in Italy – thanks Katie for taking on that job!).

I’ve done a few gorgeous road drive in my day, and I am going to attempt to pick my mostest favoritest ever.

This is going to be hard.

5. Highwood Pass – Kananaskis, Alberta, Canada

I’ve been back and forth on this road a billion times, it feels like. I know it like the back of my hand, I suppose! It was all those early morning and late night drives in search for the perfect grizzly bear to observe.

4. Rogers Pass – TransCanada Highway in B.C., Canada

I didn’t expect much on my way to Revelstoke, B.C.. But this pass was absolutely breathtaking. The wildflowers were the most colourful and widespread I had ever seen!

I wasn’t able to stop and capture my own photo!

3. Going to the Sun – Glacier National Park: Montana, U.S.A.

I’ve completed this drive 3 times now, and I will never, ever get sick of it. It would really be nice to drive it some day when I can actually see the sun peeking through the gloomy clouds. Still – jaw-dropping beauty with all the glaciers, pine trees (ohhh the smells!), and mountain goats.

2. Amalfi Coast – Italy

Zing – jaw dropping scenes and those crazy little towns like Positano hanging off the side of those sheer rock cliffs. Sure, I would move there though!

1. Road to Hana – Maui, Hawaii, U.S.A

WOW – the views! At one spot, there was a very unique tiny town that sold the best banana bread and shave ice. The volcanic rocks and huge crashing waves there were amazing! Once in Hana, we noticed that it was getting late in the day and we had to turn right back around. I was kicking myself for not booking a room there to spend the night (they were full). Try to keep your windows open when you pass the eucalyptus trees – wow! Wow. WOW!

Honourable mentions to Beartooth Highway, the Canadian gold rush route through the Fraser Canyon, the drive from Vancouver to Whistler (Sea to Sky highway), and any driving we did in Italy and Hawaii – there wasn’t a dull scene anywhere!

 

Point Pelee National Park, Ontario Canada

by Guest Blogger Dave Cooper

Part One…

Point Pelee National Park lies in Essex County in Southwestern Ontario near Leamington and tapers to a point as it extends into Lake Erie. Residing on the 42nd Parallel North, Point Pelee National Park shares this latitude with the Island of Corsica, France; Rome, Italy; Jilin in the People’s Republic of China; the Oregon-California border and the New York-Pennsylvania border in the United States.

Originally inhabited by indigenous people from AD 700 and many centuries later shared  with Europeans Settlers, subsequently, the Chippewa people were forced from this area and this land remains unceded indigenous land. Point Pelee was made a national park in 1918 by the urging of bird watchers and hunters.

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The point is part of a series of stepping stones across Lake Erie for the great migration of over 360 species of birds as well as butterflies and dragon flies every spring and fall. Lake Erie moderates the temperatures here by cooling more slowly than the surrounding land but the point still experiences warm humid summers and cold winters. The record high temperature here was recorded at 34.5C or 91.1F and the record low was  -27C or 16.6F.

On my visit here on October 5th 2012 I saw only four monarch butterflies and very few birds, only the hawks, bluejays and these wild turkeys, which stay here year round.

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Canada’s most southern point of land has many walking trails, from beach walks to boardwalks to broad paved roads. One path took us to an abandoned cemetery, last used in the early 1900s.

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Copyright ©Dave Cooper 2012.   Visit davecooperphotography.ca

Quote: Majestic Canada

It is wonderful to feel the grandness of Canada in the raw, not because she is Canada but because she’s something sublime that you were born into, some great rugged power that you are a part of.
Emily Carr

Maligne Lake – Jasper, Alberta

Fantasy Friday: A Canadian Secret Island (shhh)

I am not fantasizing about a place very far today. It’s about a 4.5 hour drive from my home, it’s the most southerly point in Canada, and it’s full of green, green NATURE! And food. Yum!

Pelee Island – I’ve heard so many great things about this place, and I can’t wait to go camping here some day.

Here’s my plan, designed by Lonely Planet:

Absorb some culture

Begin your day with a visit to the Pelee Island Heritage Centre, which has one of the best natural history collections in Ontario. Here you can learn about the island’s human and natural history, including information about the Pelee’s role in Prohibition, the archaeology of its original inhabitants and visitors, and species of animals that call the island home.

Untitled by Dustin and Jennifer StaceyCreative Commons Attribution licence

Spot rare wildlife

Sign up for an island eco-tour with Explore Pelee. Run by the enthusiastic Anne Marie, Explore Pelee (explorepelee.com) specializes in mellow bike tours that showcase the island’s best: Fish Point Nature Reserve, where birders flock to catch sight of migrating birds; Vin Villa ruins, the grand estate of the original winery; and Lighthouse Point Provincial Preserve, where a restored lighthouse and rare species of salamander and turtles reside. Guides will also narrate the geological and cultural history of the island, providing details about Pelee’s canals, its Middle Devonian landscape, and island farming. Besides bike tours, bike rentals and tours that focus specifically on birds, geology and agriculture are available.

Hit the beach

Biking in summer heat can be intense, so relax post-tour with a swim off one of Pelee’s sandy beaches. Lake Erie’s shallow waters are heated to bathtub-water warm in the summer, and as you’re bobbing around in the warm blue water you might believe you’re in the Caribbean.

For storing wine by Candace NastCreative Commons Attribution licence

Tease your tastebuds

Pelee Island is the surprising home to a winery (the island is further south than half of the US states) and though the wines aren’t necessarily world class, the winery is a great place to unwind for a late afternoon snack. Pelee Island Winery (peleeisland.com) is the oldest and largest estate winery in Canada, with 600 acres of vines. Tours depart at noon, 2pm and 4pm daily, and are only $5 – with a wine tasting included. You can privately book special food and wine tours. For dinner, consider a picnic at one of Pelee Island’s many shore side locations. Sunset Beach, just north of the ferry terminal, is, as the name indicates, an excellent place to watch the sun sink into Lake Erie. Bring a bottle of Pelee Island Wine, and end your day relaxing on the warm sand. After a night in one of the excellent B&Bs, stock up on baked goods for the ferry ride home at Conorlee’s Bakery and Delicatessen. Homemade loaves, pastries and soups will have you fortified for the journey back to the mainland.

Make it happen

Sleeping: Pelee Island has several excellent bed and breakfasts, most of which are historic limestone homes. Try Stonehill B&B, on the west side of the island. With grey stone walls a foot thick, you won’t hear a sound all night, and the water views are magnificent.

Transport: ferry is the best way to reach Pelee from April to December; it is a relaxed one and a half hour ride each way from Leamington and Kingsville. There is also a ferry from Sandusky, Ohio (bring your passport). The schedule varies from day to day, but it is absolutely essential that you make a reservation. You can do so online at Ontario Ferries (www.ontarioferries.com). In the winter, there are regularly scheduled flights to and from the island’s small airport. Pelee is easily navigable by bike, which can be rented on the island. You can also drive a car on to the ferry.

Sunset at Lake Erie by vinod shankarCreative Commons Attribution licence

How Canadian….in Wyoming.

This guy was found munching away on leaves with his pal, another bull moose even bigger than him, in Grand Teton National Park.

The loud construction on the road about 20 feet away, and the crowd of 30-ish tourists didn’t seem to bother these dudes very much.