How the West was Once

Yesterday we got up early and headed to Heritage Park for the opening of the park at 9:30 a.m.  We parked and after paying $1 each, we took a restored Calgary Municipal Street Car into the Historical Village where we did some scouting out of the shopping.  Oliver was asked to blow the street car’s whistle so he was thrilled and after getting to the main entrance he goes, “there’s more?”.

We then headed into Gasoline Alley where we checked out a series of old historic cars and a restored gas station.  After heading into the main park, we immediately got into a steam powered locomotive at Midnapore Station to Shepard Station that took us to the back of the park.

From there we took the replica paddlewheeler out into Glenmore Reservoir where we watched some rowing and sailing races.  The breeze just about froze me to death but Jordon and Mark found it refreshing so I used Jordon as a wind break.

From there we checked out the old midway where Oliver and Mark went on the Caterpillar.  As it was going Jordon read the sign that says that it was super popular for dating couples to go on because once the top closed, there was no telling what was happening.  Mark got off the ride with a “you’ve got to be kidding me look on his face”.

Then it was off to the old Vulcan Ice Cream Parlour and explored the rest of Main Street.  I wandered into the old Gledhill’s Drugstore which used to be in Dundurn and later Hanley.  I bought Jordon and old retro camera and typewriter poster sized advertisements.  Mark wanted one of the camera as well. 

I hit up the bakery, checked out an wooden oil rig, and road the train to different parts of the park.

Finally it was time to go and we picked up a couple of things at the gift shops in the entrance to the park.  Mark wanted a poster that showed the history of Canadian aviation.  I got a print of an early advertisement for CP Rail and the Chateau Laurier. 

Vintage CP Rail Advertisemtent for Lake Louise

Exploring Banff National Park

Good morning!

I am sleeping in today.  After two straight days of being up at 5:30 a.m., we get to sleep into 7:30 a.m. today.

We took the old highway to Banff which is a long and winding highway through Cochrane and some of the most amazing scenery ever.  It’s one of our favorite drives.

Calgary to Johnston's Canyon Map

The morning got off with a hitch when I forgot jackets for Jordon and I.  So I went into Safeway in Banff while Jordon and Mark went shopping for a hoodie for Jordon and I.  Jordon never found one he liked (and he never minds the cold like I do) but they found one for me.  It is great and  I was glad I got it.

We drove up the Bow Valley Parkway and got into Johnston’s Canyon early and started to hike along the amazing path.   The parking lot was packed like I had never seen it before.  We started out and it was slow walking along the path.  Jordon used the Map My Hike app and it said that we averaged 15 minutes a kilometre.  It was frustrating.  So many tourists and they were a) either taking selphy’s or texting.  I lost a lot of faith in humanity. 

We had plans to go to the second water falls but it had rained the night before and Jordon should not have been hiking up that trail with his ankle and foot the way it was.   It had rained the night before and the trail was really slick.  It wasn’t good for his leg or hip and instead of pushing it too far, we made the decision to do the entire path next year.

After heading back to the car, we got in and checked out the Castle Mountain Campground where we plan to camp next summer for a week.   I’ll be honest, I had looked at the campground website and didn’t pay that close of attention.  When I didn’t notice any showers or washrooms, I kind of freaked.  After being assured that there is washrooms (but no showers), I was okay with it.

After that we pushed up the Bow Valley Parkway while keeping a lookout for black and grizzly bears, moose, and all sorts of elk.

Banff to Lake Louise

We got to the Fairmont Chateau Lake Louise (where Jordon asked me to marry him).

Chateau Lake Louise in Banff National Park

We had planned to hike a bit but the parking was backed up down the mountain.  People were also parked 11km AWAY from Moraine Lake.  It was insane how much traffic there was.  We have always gone later in the season and have never had to experience the insanity of peak season.

After that we went back down the Bow Valley Parkway and stopped at a picnic area called Sawback.  Sawback had changed from when Jordon first took me there.  It was a childhood favorite spot of Jordon’s and here it was totally changed.  I was kind of frustrated but Jordon wandered into the bush and we followed him.   He came across the most amazing babbling brook (which is why he loved it).   The picnic tables had moved but the brook was right where it had always been.   I was happy to be there but sad that Jordon’s mom wasn’t.  She would have loved to have shared that spot with her grandkids.

Jordon has some hilarious stories of falling in to the lake and then drinking from it (he got sick).  Mark decided to dip his head into it the brook.  He places his hands into the ice cold glacier water and almost died.  He did soak his head and kind of suffered from immediate hypothermia.

Back in Banff, we did visit the Bow Falls where not only Mark dunked himself but so did Oliver.   Learning from experience is not their strong suit. 

Then it was time to head over to the Cave and Basin National Historic Site.  I had never been there before but Jordon grew up going to it and was really looking forward to us seeing the site.  It had changed a lot since he was last there but we had fun.  They had a contest for the kids on who could do the most activities there so Oliver was all over the place.  

Cave and Basin National Historic Site in Banff National Park

We did do some shopping but I realized by the limp that Jordon had, it was time to head back.  Oliver bought an elastic band gun while Jordon bought me some moose shaped ear rings. 

Then it was back to Calgary.  We took Highway 1 back into the city and found ourselves back into the hotel exhausted.  As the boys went to bed, Jordon and I went back down to the hotel pool.

Today we are off to Heritage Park and see how the west was once.  Neither the boys or myself have never been so we are really looking forward to checking it out.

We are in Calgary

We are in Calgary right now and staying in the Best Western Plus Calgary Centre hotel.  Here is how we got here.

This morning at 5:50 a.m. we got up, drove to Tim Horton’s for some mocha chinos.  After caffeinating up (and listening to Jordon complain about Tim Horton’s coffee), we left Saskatoon and were on the Saskatchewan Highway 7 through Rosetown, Kindersley & Alsask by 5:00 a.m.  We then met Alberta Highway 9 which took us through Oyen, Hanna, and Drumheller

The Drive from Saskatoon, Saskatchewan to Calgary, Alberta

Unlike previous trips to Calgary which generally start with a greasy Egg McMuffin breakfast at McDonald’s on 22nd (and followed by stomach ache until Hanna), I made a healthy breakfast, made fresh coffee and tea, and basically did a much better job of planning. 

The boys were fine.  They both have go-bags, inspired by Lifehacker.  In Oliver’s bag was his Nintendo DS, binoculars, an iPod and headphones, a new book to read, his flashlight, camera, water bottle, and a notebook and pen.  He was good the entire trip, even when his DS ran out of battery life.

Mark’s bag included his tablet,  headphones, flashlight, water bottle, his Fujifilm Finepix XP20 camera, his phone, GPS, tablet, monocular, a notebook, pen, book, and a copy of Outside Magazine.

Jordon and I have them as well.  Mine included my iPod, headphones, flashlight, binoculars, book, magazine, pens, iPad and a notebook.  Jordon’s was similar but like Mark, he has a monocular.  It really makes travelling a lot easier.  For loading the car yesterday, we had two duffle bags, three camera bags, a small cooler with cold drinks and the four go-bags.  Other than coffee mugs this morning, everything was ready to go.

We stopped at Drumheller to let Oliver take a run in the padding pool and for Mark and Oliver to run up the dinosaur’s butt.  When we went through three years ago, Oliver took a look at the giant T-Rex and realized that those stairs went “up his butt” and immediately had second thoughts.  Since then has become more comfortable with the idea.

The break was good for both Mark and Oliver.  Jordon was thinking ahead and had Oliver travel in his swimming trunks.  After he dried off, we pushed onto Horseshoe Canyon where we stopped again and took some photos and let the boys take it in.

After that it was on to Calgary.

Best Western Plus Calgary CentreWe had timed the trip to be both leisurely (which it was) and to coincide with us arriving in Calgary in time to check in at the hotel.  After talking our stuff inside (camera and duffle bags), we took the LRT from the hotel to downtown.

We were checking out MEC and The Camera Store when Jordon got a DM from Dave King asking if we had supper plans.  We did not so we met him at The King and I, a Thai restaurant in downtown Calgary.  The food and service were amazing.

We walked with Dave back to the the Calgary Tower.  Oliver loves the Calgary Tower more than anywhere else and he still thinks it was amazing.  It was incredibly busy but we walked around, tempted fate by standing on the glass floor and then made our way to The Bow.

The Bow was amazing.  I could have stood in that square all day long taking photos and just taking it in.

We were going to go to the Peace Bridge but Oliver was melting down.  He had been up since 5 a.m., didn’t sleep for a second on the trip and had nothing left.  So we took the CTrain back to the hotel and let the boys wind down after a long day.

We will head back downtown to explore The Bow and the Peace Bridge early on Sunday morning before we go to the Calgary Zoo.

Chicken Satay with Peanut Sauce Recipe

Chicken Satay with Peanut Sauce Recipe

Chicken Satay with Peanut Sauce Recipe

Ingredients

  • 1 tbsp brown sugar
  • 1 tbsp curry powder
  • 2 tbsp peanut butter
  • 1/2 cup soy sauce
  • 1/2 cup lime juice, freshly squeezed
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • pinch chili peppers, crushed.
  • 6 boned and skinned chicken breast halves cut in 1/2" strips
  • 2/3 cup peanut butter
  • 1 1/2 cups coconut milk
  • 1/4 cup lemon juice, freshly squeezed
  • 2 tbsp soy sauce
  • 2 tbsp brown sugar
  • 1 tsp fresh ginger, grated
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • pinch cayenne
  • 1/4 cup chicken stock
  • 1/4 cup heavy cream
  • sprig cilantro

Directions

  1. Combine the brown sugar, curry powder, peanut butter, soy sauce, lime juice, garlic and crushed chilies in a shallow dish, or in a heavy-duty resealable bag. Marinate strips of chicken for 2 hours or overnight. Meanwhile, soak wooden skewers in water to prevent burning at the time of cooking.
  2. Thread the chicken pieces on the skewers in a serpentine pattern.
  3. To make the peanut sauce, combine the peanut butter, coconut milk, lemon juice, soy sauce, brown sugar, ginger, garlic, and cayenne pepper in a saucepan over moderate heat (on the sideburner), and cook until the sauce is as thick as heavy cream, about 15 minutes. Purée briefly in a blender or a food processor. Add the chicken stock and cream and blend again until smooth. Reserve, and bring to room temperature before serving.
  4. Preheat barbecue on HIGH and brush grids with vegetable oil to prevent sticking. Place chicken skewers on the grill and reduce heat to MEDIUM. Cook, turning several times and basting with the marinade, for 6 - 8 minutes or until no longer pink on the inside. Sprinkle with chopped cilantro leaves. Serve with room temperature peanut sauce.
Schema/Recipe SEO Data Markup by Zip Recipes Plugin

Restaurant Review: The Konga Cafe

A restaurant review of the Konga Cafe in SaskatoonCan I give a restaurant a 7 out of 5 rating?  If I could, I would give it to the Konga Cafe.

It is located at the bottom of Caswell Hill in Saskatoon and features an amazing assortment of Caribbean food and fare.  Being from Guyana, it feels like I have travelled back in time and can eat some of the food that I grew up with.

When we go to the restaurant, it doesn’t feel like we are going out to eat in an establishment but rather like we are going over to a friends place to eat their excellent home cooking.  From the first time we went, we were made to feel at home at The Konga Cafe.  It has a festive laid back atmosphere.  Not only are you chatting with your server but chatting with other guests.

Of course the food is amazing.  Caribbean Jerk Chicken, Curried Shrimp, Spicy Peanut Shrimp, and an amazing steak.  If the kids just want a burger or chicken fingers, they have that as well.  For dessert, you need to try the key lime pie. 

The Konga Cafe has long been a favourite restaurant of both Jordon and I.  It is a great enough experience that makes it perfect for a special date night out but it’s casual enough that we can take the kids and enjoy it as a family any evening.  No wonder why it is so highly rated on TripAdvisor, Planet S Magazine, and Zomato.

Click to add a blog post for Konga Cafe on Zomato

Konga Cafe
204 Avenue H N
Saskatoon, Saskatchewan
(306) 244-7867

Website | Facebook

Egg & Cheese on Roll Recipe

Here is a classic New York Recipe and perfect when you need something to eat and go.

Egg and Cheese on a Roll Recipe

Rating: 31

Ingredients

  • 1 1/2 cups water
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1 (6-ounce) package Stove Top lower-sodium Stuffing Mix for chicken
  • 3 ounces bulk pork sausage
  • Cooking spray
  • 6 large eggs, beaten
  • 1.3 ounces Monterey Jack cheese, shredded (about 1/3 cup)
  • 1/2 cup finely chopped red bell pepper (optional)
  • 1/4 cup sliced green onions

Directions

  1. Combine first 3 ingredients in a small bowl, stirring with a whisk.
  2. Place 1 cheese slice on top of each muffin half. Place muffin halves on a baking sheet. Broil 1 minute or until cheese melts.
  3. Heat a small nonstick skillet over medium heat. Add oil to pan; swirl to coat. Add egg mixture to pan; cook without stirring until mixture sets on bottom. Draw a spatula across bottom of pan to form curds. Continue drawing spatula across bottom of pan until egg mixture is slightly thick, but still moist; do not stir constantly. Remove from pan immediately and place on muffin bottom.
  4. Spread ketchup (or don't) over cheese on muffin top. Sprinkle egg with hot sauce, if desired, and cover with muffin top. Serve immediately.
Schema/Recipe SEO Data Markup by Zip Recipes Plugin

Restaurant Review: Smoke’s Poutinerie (Moose Jaw)

A couple of weekends ago Jordon, Mark, Oliver and I drove to Moose Jaw for a day of taking some photos and exploring the sights.  It was a gorgeous day and the plan was to eat the famous Nit’s Thai Food.

Restaurant Review of Smoke's Poutinerie in Moose JawWe explored, had a good time and were about to go into Nits when the smell of a dirty deep fryer just about made us gag.  So that was definitely out of the question.  We walked further down main street until we noticed Smoke’s Poutinerie.

Two boys and a signed that said, “BBQ, Mac & Cheese Poutine”.  Even if I wanted to go somewhere else, I would not have been able to hold them back.

We went in and ordered four different poutiness.  Oliver got the BBQ Mac & Cheese Poutine, Jordon ordered the Philly Cheesesteak Poutine, Mark ordered the Rainbow Poutine, and I got the Chicken Fajita Poutine.

So while we were all starving when we walked in, none of us were able to finish our box of poutine.  We all gave a great effort but there was just too much excellent an amazing food.  The other thing about the food was that while we all got really different dishes, I would have been happy with all of them.  They were that good and I don’t know if any of us other than Oliver would say, “This is my favourite.”  They are all our favourites.

Of course as a diner style restaurant, they had Coke products in glass bottles.  It only made the experience better.

So while Moose Jaw is over 2 hours away, I would actually consider driving that far to try it again.  The food and the dining experience was that much fun.  If you haven’t been there, you really need to try it out.

Smoke’s Poutinerie
11 River Street
Moose Jaw, Saskatchewan
(306) 691-2873
Website | Facebook (local restaurant)

Click to add a blog post for Smoke's Poutinerie on Zomato

How to capture brilliant firework photos

How to take brilliant fireworks photos

Summer is known for great fireworks displays. Olympus is known for great camera scene modes. Coincidence? No way. Your first step in taking great pictures of fireworks is to simply select the Fireworks Scene Mode. The camera will then slow the shutter speed value and set the focusing point to infinity (∞).

If your camera doesn?t have scene modes (i.e. the E-1, E-3 & E-5) or is able to support a high-level of manual control, set the camera to manual mode (M) and adjust the shutter speed and aperture. Setting the aperture to F8 and a shutter speed of 3 to 4 seconds should give good results. Set the ISO sensitivity to 100 or 80. And don’t forget to change to MF (manual focus) and set the focusing point to infinity (∞).

End of the school year

Well Mark and Oliver finished off another school year.

Oliver is finished grade 1 and did really well.  His report card was good although he made the classic mistake of not reading it before he came home.  Mark and Jordon told him that he failed gym which is his worst nightmare.  The kid takes a lot of pride in his effort he puts into gym everyday.  So after he told the truth that a) he passed gym and b) he is not a slow runner; things were fine.

Mark had a horrible first semester of the school year and dug himself a massive hole for math.  He managed to dig himself out of it by hard work and a lot of yelling by both Jordon and I but it wasn’t easy.  His grades were better in the second semester but the consensus was that he underachieved.  So he has a lot of work to do this summer.

He is also taking both apprentice math in the first semester and will take the advanced math in the second semester.  As Jordon said, “It’s like you have pre-failed math and have to take it again”.  Mark wasn’t happy with that but if it gets him into university it will be worth it.

We took the boys out for dinner last night and gave them a couple of things for the summer.  Mark was given a new Captain America shirt and a monopod for his camera while Oliver was given a Saskatchewan Roughriders shirt and Coleman watch.  They were both thrilled.