From travel

20 years

A couple of weeks ago it dawned on me that Jordon and I are going to be married 20 years ago next October.  We started to toss around where to go and what to do.  It’s still a year and a half away but if we were going to go somewhere great, we needed to save.

On monday, Jordon posted a 5000 word long travel guide to Banff National Park on the Don’s Photo blog.  It’s worth the read if you a photographer who enjoys travel.  One of the ideas that I loved was a night at the Skoki Lodge, a historic alpine lodge that is a 11 mile hike up the mountain.  It is $200 per person per night but the food is great the setting is breath taking.

The problem is that the time of the year could mean either snow or hiking and we don’t cross country ski.  Snow shoeing 11km up a mountain is a lot harder than hiking it and I am not sure if after 20 years of marriage if I can talk Jordon into carrying me.   Also while we had only planned to spend a night, it is a two night minimum which meant it would cost us $800 for those two nights, it was more than I wanted to spend.

I looked at the Chateau Lake Louise which is $699.99 a night for a basic room.  We have a history there (Jordon proposed to me there) but it is a luxury hotel and the $700 for the room was just the beginning of what it would cost.  Breakfast can easily cost you $100 in the hotel.

After looking around, a hotel that we have stayed in before in Banff has a wonderful jacuzzi suite with a fireplace for only $120 a night.  We have thought the normal rooms are wonderful so the idea of staying in this kind of room sounds like a lot of fun.  Also since it is right in the middle of Banff, we can walk everywhere and not have to worry about parking (not that Banff is that busy in October).

Red Carpet Inn in Banff National Park

Saving some money on the hotel also means that Jordon and I can spend some more time in Banff tooling around and hanging out together.   I can’t wait. 

As for what we are going to do… probably some of the same things we often do in Banff and Jordon has suggested hiking around Stewart Canyon and Lake Minnewanka or heading to Yoho National Park and checking out the Walk in the Past Trail.

Exploring the Kingsmere Lake Trail in Prince Albert National Park

On Sunday, Jordon and I decided to take the boys (and dog) for one last hike.  We checked the weather and it said that Waskesiu would be about 6 degrees above zero so we decided to go for it.  I don’t think it ever got that warm but it was nice enough to hike and explore the Kingsmere Lake Trail which goes between the north part of Waskesiu Lake to Kingsmere Lake.

As you start, you go 500m down the trail towards Grey Owl’s cabin until you come to a long flight of stairs to the stream below.  After crossing a bridge you follow the portage rail track until you get to the Southend Campground before heading back.  It wasn’t the longest hike but it was a nice way to end the season and the boys had a great time exploring one more trail in Prince Albert National Park.

For those of you who noticed the ridiculous socks that Jordon is wearing, they are compression socks and are supposed to help his leg heal.  For the record, they aren’t working.

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The Southern Prairie Railway in Ogema, Saskatchewan

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With Ford Canada lending us a 2015 Ford Focus and then sending us on a trip for a weekend, we went to Ogema, Saskatchewan where we took the Southern Prairie Railway for a trip to Horizon, Saskatchewan. 

It is a tourist railway and we were taken in a refurbished Pullman passenger car an hour down the track where we explored the Federal Grain Elevator.  Then it was back to Ogema where we headed back to Saskatoon.

The trip down to Ogema was fantastic and if I was in the area, I’d do it again.  The boys and I had a great time learning about the history of the area, the train we were on, and the changes in southern Saskatchewan (which is now strangely empty since the advent of industrial farming).

The elevator was another great experience.  I had never been in one and may never be in one again. Learning about how it worked and was constructed was a lot of fun.

If you are in the area and have some time on a weekend for a great adventure, make sure you check out the Southern Prairie Railway.  It’s worth the time and money to step back in history and see Saskatchewan from a different perspective.

Restaurant Review: Deja Vu Café (Moose Jaw)

While in Moose Jaw with the 2015 Ford Focus, we had plans to go to Smoke’s Poutinerie (which had just gone belly up there) and instead went to Déjà Vu Café, a diner that specializes in chicken wings and milkshakes.  It was a fabulous choice and I can’t recommend it enough.

Below is the 74 different flavors of chicken wings that have to choose from.

  1. Ranch
  2. Texas Ranch
  3. Montana Ranch
  4. Gravy
  5. Tex Mex
  6. Dilly Delight
  7. Honey Dill
  8. Creamy Garlic
  9. Antisocial
  10. Garlic Parmesan
  11. Garlic Inferno
  12. Honey Garlic
  13. Honey BBQ
  14. Honey Aki
  15. Teriyaki
  16. Sweet & Sour
  17. Aloha
  18. Sweet Heat (Thai Sweet & Spicy)
  19. BBQ
  20. Hickory Smoke
  21. Plum
  22. Honey Mustard
  23. Bombay Curry
  24. Coconut Curry
  25. Orange Ginger
  26. Szechwan
  27. Raspberry
  28. Chipotle
  29. BBQ Chipotle
  30. Ragin Chipotle
  31. Mild
  32. Medium
  33. Hot
  34. Xtra Hot
  35. Frank’s Buffalo
  36. Asian Inferno (Szechwan & Hot)
  37. Daredevil (Orange Ginger & Worchester)
  38. Manchurian Devil (Sweet & Sour & Hot)
  39. Korean BBQ (Szechwan & BBQ)
  40. Sweet Southern Heat (Honey Mustard & Hot)
  41. Passion (Honey Garlic & Hot)
  42. TeriHot (Teriyaki & Hot)
  43. Fire & Ice (Sweet Heat & Ranch)
  44. Kajax (3rd Degree Hot & Wet Cajun)
  45. Roasted Ranch (Ranch & Roasted Garlic/Pepper)
  46. Sweet Tekki (Sweetheat & Teriyaki)
  47. Electric Honey (Lemon Pepper topped w/ Honey Garlic)
  48. Hickory Dillory Dock (Honey Dill topped w/ Hickory Smoke)
  49. Smokin’ Sizzle (BBQ topped w/ Spicy Pepper Medly)
  50. Cody Beach (Dilly Delight topped w/ Lemon Pepper)
  51. All Dressed (Tastes like the Chips!)
  52. Zzouch (Creamy Garlic & Carribean Jerk)
  53. Buffalo Dill (Franks Buffalo & Dilly Delight)
  54. Wild Wild West (BBQ topped w/ Texas Ranch)
  55. H.H.H. (Kajax topped w/ Franks Buffalo topped w/ Texas Ranch)
  56. Apple Bliss (Mesquite BBQ topped w/ Apple Pieces)
  57. Yee Zee (BBQ topped w/ Teriyaki)
  58. Southwest Sizzle
  59. Lemon Pepper
  60. Lemon Herb
  61. Cheesy Parmesan
  62. Salt & Vinegar
  63. Salt & Pepper
  64. Italian Greek
  65. Cajun Cheddar
  66. Roasted Garlic & Peppers
  67. Sour Cream & Chives
  68. Vampire (Cheddar & Garlic)
  69. Desert (BBQ)
  70. Hot Garlic Chili
  71. Chocolate Chili
  72. Red Hot & Blue
  73. Maple Apple & Beer
  74. Caribbean Jack

Did I mention they have a few milkshake flavors?

  1. Vanilla
  2. French Vanilla
  3. Blackberry
  4. Huckleberry
  5. Grape
  6. Tutti Fruiti
  7. Cherry
  8. Cherry
  9. Cheesecake
  10. Kiwi
  11. Raspberry
  12. Raspberry Cream
  13. Watermelon
  14. Peach
  15. Mango
  16. Peach Mango
  17. Blueberry
  18. Blueberry Cheesecake
  19. Lime
  20. Banana
  21. Banana Cream Pie
  22. Strawberry
  23. Strawberry Mango
  24. Strawberry Cheesecake
  25. Strawberry Lime
  26. Strawberry Kiwi
  27. Strawberry Banana
  28. Strawberry Shortcake
  29. Chocolate
  30. Chocolate Strawberry
  31. Chocolate Cherry
  32. Chocolate Mint
  33. Chocolate Banana
  34. German Chocolate
  35. Chocolate Amaretto
  36. Chocolate Cheesecake
  37. Chocolate Macadamia Nut
  38. Chocolate Hazelnut
  39. Chocolate Caramel
  40. Caramel
  41. Caramel Cheesecake
  42. Peanut Butter
  43. Peanut Butter Banana
  44. Chocolate Peanut Butter Banana
  45. Butterscotch
  46. Orange
  47. Orange Cream
  48. Pistachio
  49. Maple Walnut
  50. Hazelnut
  51. Cappuccino Coffee
  52. Irish Cream
  53. Espresso
  54. Pink Lemonade
  55. Mint
  56. Pina Colada
  57. Pineapple
  58. Amaretto
  59. Root Beer
  60. Rum & Butter
  61. Cinnamon
  62. S’More
  63. Crème Brule
  64. Toasted Marshmallow
  65. Chocolate Marshmallow
  66. Egg Nog
  67. Tiger Tiger
  68. Black Licorice
  69. Crème de Menthe
  70. Apple Pie
  71. Cotton Candy
  72. Bubble Gum
  73. English Toffee

To start with, they take your milkshake order because you know it is made from scratch the old fashioned way.  Oliver ordered an Egg Nog milkshake, Mark ordered a Chocolate mint milkshake and I ordered a chocolate cheesecake milkshake. 

They were as amazing as we expected and a meal in itself.

For wings, Mark ordered barbecue wings and thought they were amazing.  They also came with excellent fries on the side.  I ordered their ribs.  I know.  I was a nationally recognized chicken wing place and here I am ordering ribs.  I have no defense other than I wanted some ribs.  They too were great.  Of course they also have some fun dessert options but you know those milkshakes got in the way.

The service was good despite it being packed and a close Saskatchewan Roughrider game on (the Banjo Bowl that we lost).  There was a lineup of people to get in in part because no one wanted to leave.  That of course is testament to the staff, décor, and food.  It was all fantastic.  The wait was manageable because the game was playing on two large screen televisions but if I was going to go again, I’d go before 6:00 p.m.

If you live in Moose Jaw, you have probably experienced how good this place is already but if you are visiting Moose Jaw, this is well worth the time and money for a fun night out.  It’s also only a short block away from the Temple Gardens Inn.

Deja Vu Cafe

Deja Vu Cafe Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Focus on Saskatchewan

Focus on Saskatchewan: Brought to you by Ford Canada

We are doing something cool this weekend.  Ford Canada is giving us a 2015 Ford Focus for review and we are taking it on a road trip to southern Saskatchewan.

First we are heading to Moose Jaw after taking a short detour to Keeler, Saskatchewan.Saskatoon to Moose Jaw

We will be taking the shorter blue route.  The grey route looks interesting but I think you need an up armored Humvee or a Ford Raptor to survive that highway.   It’s in less than stellar shape in some parts.

As for Keeler, it is an unincorporated town that is home to the Cooper’s.  It is has gone through a population boom and is now 15 people.  According to Google Street View, the bar that Jordon used to frequent when he was six years old (I’ll give you a moment to reflect on that last part…. life is different in rural Saskatchewan) and the garage that his grandfather used to run is still standing.

Once we take a few photographs and check it out, we will be staying at the Temple Garden’s Mineral Spa.  After we toss our bags into the room, we are heading to the historic Claybank Brick Factory.

Moose Jaw to Claybank Brick Plant

Here is a great documentary on the Claybank Brick Factory.  Bricks from the factory have been used for World War II warships, the Delta Bessborough, and even the Cape Canaveral launch pads for the Apollo Space Missions.   It should be interesting.

After that, we are heading backing back into Moose Jaw for dinner at the legendary Smoke’s Poutinerie and then chilling out in the mineral pool at Temple Gardens.

Sunday morning we are getting up and heading south to Rouleau, which of course is home to Dog River and Corner Gas.  From  We will pass there and head to Ogema, Saskatchewan where we will head to the Southern Prairie Railway.

Moose Jaw to Ogema

Using a renovated Pullman 1922 passenger car and refurbished GE 44 ton engine, adventurers are taken back to a time when Canada’s fortunes depended on the movement of people and goods across our great nation. The train runs west along an old CPR branch line to Horizon, and Pangman, Saskatchewan.

Then it is a long drive back to Saskatoon and the conclusion of a great trip.

Follow me here, Twitter, Instagram, and Flickr.  I’ll be posting updates all weekend long.

CCM Rooftop Cargo Bag

Instead of jam packing the car full of stuff when we go into the Rocky Mountains next year, we bought one of these.  It is from CCM and is a bag that attaches to the roof of any car and offers up 13 cubic feet of space, or about the same amount as some of the Thule rooftop carriers which cost about 8 times as much.

CCM rooftop cargo bag

After looking at it, I should be able to get the sleeping bags and the tents in the bag with no problem.  We don’t have rooftop racks but it has it’s own attachment system so it will be fine.  Once we get to Banff National Park, we will take it down and toss it in the back.  It folds down to a small bag with no problems.  The one thing that the reviews pointed out that if used in the rain on the highway, water will get in.  That makes sense.  100 kph of driving rain tends to force it’s way into any small holes or cracks.  To stop that we will toss things in waterproof bags before we pack it.

Wow, already taking steps for next year’s trip.  That doesn’t seem like me does it.

Next summer

After a lot of debate and discussion, we are going to spend our summer vacation in Banff National Park exploring the trails and hidden lakes around Banff and Lake Louise.

Our home base will the Castle Mountain Campground.  It’s in the shadow of the Castle Mountain and the Main Range of mountains.  We scouted it out last week and it is gorgeous.  We have our 8 person and two room tent for Jordon, Marley and I.  Mark and Oliver have a 5 person tent they are sharing.   Well, we will see how that turns out.

The plan is to drive from Saskatoon to Calgary on July 3rd and spend the night at the Best Western Calgary Centre.  We have stayed there twice before and liked it.  Then on Monday morning we will head up to Banff National Park and make camp.  Since we are camping in the middle of bear country, our food will be in a food locker.

After that is done, we will drive back down the Bow Valley Parkway and hike Johnston Canyon past the lower and higher falls before pressing on unto the ink pots.  In the afternoon we will explore the nearby Silverton waterfall, a little known but really high waterfall near Castle Mountain.

Tuesday we will  start out with a trip to the Lake Agnes Tea House at Lake Louise.  It’s a short hike but it will be a long day before we head back to the campground.   Since we are up in the area, the afternoon will be spent hiking around Moraine Lake.

Wednesday we are heading up our first mountain.  In fact, it’s the only urban mountain that I know of; Tunnel Mountain.  Then we will take the Banff Gondola to the top of Sulphur Mountain.   I am not worried about Marley on the hikes but  I am worried about her on a gondola.  Since there is no showers in the campground, we are going to shower and chill out in the Banff Hot Springs.  We will also resupply our food stocks at the Safeway in Banff.

Thursday, we are heading up to the Plains of Six Glaciers Tea House.  That is a long hike, lots of elevation and a long day.

Friday we are undecided about which hike to try.  Since there is a lot of time between then and now, we will decide.

Saturday we are breaking camp and then driving 70 km past Lake Louise where we are hiking to Glacier Lake.

The hike to Glacier Lake and it’s backcountry campground is considered easy to moderate.   It is approximately 18Km return with a total elevation gain of 400m, allow 5-6 hours return.

At about 1 Km you will reach the foot bridge that crosses the North Saskatchewan River. Cross the bridge and continue on another 1.2Km until you reach the Howse River View Point. Interesting to note that David Thompson who led a group of fur traders camped at this spot for several days in 1807.  From this viewpoint you can see Howse Pass, Mount Murchison, Mount Outram, the Sir James Glacier and the beautifully colored Howse River.

Follow the trail to your right (west) as it drops down towards the river. The trail meanders upstream along the bank of the Howes River for another 2Km or so then enters a lush spruce, fir and pine forest.  In approximately 4.5km you’ll reach a sign that points towards the Glacier Lake Campground.

The trail splits here towards Glacier Lake and the dangerous Howes River crossing that joins the historic Howse Pass Trail. From this sign it is a short distance down to Glacier Lake. Glacier Lake is the fourth largest lake in Banff National Park. It is 4.6Km long and .9Km wide. The lake is fed from the massive Lyell Glacier that is 8.5Km west of here.

We plan to camp overnight and return in the morning.  Once we get back on Sunday, we will grab a shower and then head back to Saskatoon.

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?”.

Oliver and Mark riding the Calgary Municipal Streetcar into Heritage Park

We then headed into Gasoline Alley where we checked out a series of old historic cars and a restored gas station.

Gasoline Alley in Calgary's Heritage Park

Inside Gasoline Alley in Calgary's Heritage Park

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.

Conductor on the train

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.


Picnic on the shore of Glenmore Resovoir in Calgary

Sailing boats in Calgary's Glenmore Resovoir

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. 

Main Street in Calgary's Heritage Park

Some street performers in Calgary's Heritage Park

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

Shepard Station in Heritage Park

In the end, I had no idea what to expect from Heritage Park but I really, really enjoyed it.  If you have never checked it out, add it to your list of things to visit in Calgary.  It’s well worth the money and the day we spent there.

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.

Me in my Banff National Park hoodie

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. 

The start of the hike up Johnston's Canyon in Banff National Park

Johnston's Canyon in Banff National Park

Waterfall in Johnston's Canyon in Banff National Park

Johnston's Canyon in Banff National Park

The first big waterfall at Johnston's Canyon in Banff National Park

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 frustrating 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.

Mark dipping his head into a glacier fed stream

Jordon and Mark dunking Oliver into the stream

Jordon has some hilarious stories of falling in to the brook 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.