Tag Archive | "Canada"

Rafting the Chilko with R.O.A.M.

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Rafting the  Chilko-Chilcotin-Fraser with R.O.A.M.

Rafting the Chilko-Chilcotin-Fraser with R.O.A.M.

What’s the Deal: The Chilko trip with R.O.A.M. was recognized by Outside magazine as the Best River Trip for 2014.  Not a bad distinction for this amazing eight day expedition.

The Trip: “The Chilko-Chilcotin-Fraser is unmatched in its awesome diversity and enormous stretches of Class IV whitewater. The trip begins with a spectacular flight over the glaciated CoastRange into WilliamsLake. From there, we transfer to the headwaters of Chilko where we spend two glorious nights at Bear Camp, perched at the juncture of ChilkoLake and the ChilkoRiver. Our rafts depart Bear Camp on Monday mornig and this world-class river adventure winds through lush alpine forests, narrow canyons, high desert plateaus and skyscraping hoodoos, then ends 3,000 vertical feet lower and one week later on the FraserRiver, the lifeblood of Canada’s largest river system. The route runs through Lava, Big John and Farwell canyons and includes the continent’s longest stretch of commercially navigable whitewater.”

 

The Quote: R.O.A.M. says, “We think celebrated author Pam Houston sums it up best:‘What I love most about the river isn’t the challenge of the rapids, isn’t the drop dead gorgeous scenery, isn’t even getting intimate with a place you can’t get to in a car (though I love all those things too). What I love best about being on the river is the way you move through space at a speed humans were meant to move, and the whole day becomes about making your miles, making your meals, making a comfortable, if temporary, home.’”

Details: The trip starts with a flight from Vancouver, two nights at Bear Camp followed by six days of non-stop action down 120 miles of river.

Cost: $2,995 from Vancouver.

Booking: R.O.A.M.

Steve Jermanok’s Active Travels: Glacier Skywalk

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Glacier Sky Walk

Glacier Skywalk

Brewster Travel Canada has been involved with the Canadian national parks since 1892, when the founders, two teenaged brothers, Jim and Bill Brewster, began guiding guests through the Rockies. If they were around today, the Brewster brothers would be in awe of their company’s latest development. Opening in Jasper National Park this coming May is the Glacier Skywalk, a glass-floored observation platform 918 feet above the Sunwapta Valley. The bird’s eye view provides an unobstructed vista of the glaciers and snowcapped peaks of Jasper, accessible to all. You reach the Glacier Skywalk by a 5-minute coach from the Glacier Discovery Centre.

 

steve1  Steve Jermanok As a columnist for National Geographic Adventure, adventure travel expert at Budget Travel, and regular contributor on outdoor recreation for Outside, Men’s Journal, Health, and Sierra, Steve Jermanok has written more than 1,000 articles on the outdoors.He’s also authored or co-authored 11 books, including Outside Magazine’s Adventure Guide to New England and Men’s Journal’s The Great Life. His latest book is Go Now! Put Your Life on Pause and See the World. He’s currently an adventure travel expert at Away.com and blogs daily at  Active Travels.

When the Going was Good: Our 30 Favorite Trips in 2013

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The incredible team that puts together Everett Potter’s Travel Report every week is a well-traveled bunch. So asking our contributors about their favorite travel moment in 2013 produced joy, angst and lengthy answers, as well as the inevitable,  “Just one?”

Herewith are some highlights from our travels in 2013.

F8

BRAZIL

Riding a horse out of dense Brazilian rain forest and into a clearing where the Atlantic came into shimmering view, during a modified version of the horseback-and-hiking trek between two of my all-time favorite hotels, Fazenda Catucaba and Pousada Picinguaba. I was with the owner on a scouting mission for what will eventually become a two-day trip from the mountains to the sea (he’s hoping to get it going next year), with stops for gourmet picnics with the fazenda’s homemade cheese and breads and a night of glamping in a safari-style campsite, though virgin UNESCO-protected forests so untouched that we walked much of the way behind state park guides wielding machetes to break a path. – Ann Abel

 

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CHICAGO


I’d never really thought of going to one of the country’s biggest cities to unwind by a pool until last winter. My husband, daughter and I wanted to fly off to a beach for a relaxing winter getaway, but her UChicago break was too short. Our solution: we booked a mini-suite at the Four Seasons Chicago and promised ourselves we wouldn’t let the fact that all of Chicago was at our doorstep entice us to get into urban mode. Happily we kept our promise. The hotel’s Roman-columned pool, with a huge Jacuzzi and light streaming in through the skylight and floor-to-ceiling window wall let us forget how cold the Chicago winter was. We ventured out once to walk to one of the museums and take a shopping stroll down Michigan Avenue. But mostly our weekend consisted of lazing on the lounge chairs, swimming in the warm pool, and sipping cool drinks in the graciously-sized Jacuzzi. Oh yes, and enjoying room service. Pina colada anyone? - Geri Bain

 

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NYC

By far it was taking my first solo trip with my son to New York City. For his birthday if there was anywhere he could go in the world, where would it be? “New York City,” he said and pointed to it on the map next to his bunk bed. “It’s my favorite place in the universe.” We spent one epic day and night in the city — stayed at the fun and funky Ace Hotel in Midtown (“What’s a record?” he asked while playing with the turntable), hit the NYPL’s Children’s Literature Exhibit, the Nathan Sawaya Lego Art exhibit, rode the subways (“Better than a rollercoaster!”) and had a fancy dinner downtown at Chef Ryan Hardy’s Charlie Bird. And to celebrate the big day? An appearance in the Today Show crowd, a stroll through the Lego Store at Rockefeller Center, lunch and gelato at Eataly and “The Lion King” on Broadway. Even the train rides in and out of the city were a hit. More importantly we got to share our love of travel, discovery, food, people and art  together! – Amiee White Beazley 

 

F10

CANADA CRUISE

Just back from my best travel experience this year–sailing out of my home port, New York City at night (a thrill!) and cruising up the Atlantic coast to Canada on Regent’s Navigator.  All of the stops were fun–Nova Scotia, Prince Edward Island, Saguenay, Quebec and Montreal, but the real surprise was visiting familiar close-to-home places like Newport and Bar Harbor that I’ve loved on land but found a treat seen from a new perspective, as ports of call.  - Eleanor Berman

 

F11

FLANDERS

Out on the road, every year has its special moments.  The Belgian province of Flanders, just beyond the center of Ypres, is where some of World War I’s bloodiest fighting occurred and where many events of the Great World War I Centenary will be celebrated in 2014.  Standing in Essex Farm Cemetery, beside the mossy bunker of the medical station where Lt. Col. John McCrae, a doctor, penned his poem, “In Flanders Fields,” I gazed out at the lines of headstones and could almost see those long-ago battlefields and hear his famous words: “In Flanders fields the poppies blow/Between the headstones, row on row.”  – Monique Burns

 

F 1

COLORADO

My best travel story of 2013 was staying up Little Woody Creek Valley with a recently-sited mountain lion, in a guest house once visited by Margaret Thatcher. The former Prime Minister happened to die while I was staying there, so each time I went for a walk, I imagined the mountain lion might appear and I’d suddenly find myself having tea with the Iron Lady in the ever after. - Melissa Coleman

 

F12

MONTEREY, CA

One of the most memorable moments of our family trip to Northern California last summer took place during a guided sea kayaking tour of Monterey Bay. Just at a spot where the winds got strong and paddling got a little rough, a rollicking band of sea lions and harbor seals swarmed around us and started clowning around for what seemed to be our amusement.  Seals were playfully nudging our kayaks and diving in between us.  Sea lions pups were leaping out of the water and striking funny poses midair.  It was hard to take our eyes off of them.  Talk about the greatest show on earth! -Jessica Genova

 

F13

PERU

The Andean Explorer, PeruRail’s luxury train service between Cuzco and Puno, is the greatest surface transportation trip I have ever taken in Latin America — and certainly the best choice for traveling to or from Lake Titicaca. The journey is not short — a full day, in fact — but the 10 hours go by quickly. One reason is the excellent entertainment: two different bands and dance troupes, featuring music and folklore from both the Sacred Valley of the Incas and the Andean plateau, perform in the morning and afternoon. A leisurely lunch consisting of regional specialties is included in the train fare, as is afternoon tea. Following lunch, the talented bartender in the observation car gives lessons in mixing Peru’s classic cocktail, the pisco sour. The scenic highlight of the journey — best enjoyed from the open-air rear car — is watching the sunset over Lake Titicaca, framed by the majestic peaks of the Bolivian Andes.  The staff provides friendly and attentive service throughout the journey; and given the international make-up of the train’s passengers, there are many opportunities to strike up interesting conversations with fellow travelers from many different countries. Cuzco and Machu Picchu are deservedly the leading tourist attractions in this part of the world; but Lake Titicaca — the highest navigable body of water in the world, and home to the fascinating people who live on the lake’s artificial floating islands — is a very worthwhile excursion. Especially since getting there is now half the fun. – Buzzy Gordon

 

F14

BRAZIL

Return to Brazil – from the toucans flying overhead, monkeys rustling the trees and up-close mists of Iguazu falls from our base at the newish Orient Express Cataratas – to the chic cobblestone streets, stylish boutiques, great dining and fabulous beaches of Buzios – to the always touristy but for a very good reason Christo in Rio, along with climbing up the base of Pao de Acucar / Sugarloaf Mtn. Bring on the Olympics and World Cup! - Cari Gray

 

F15

ALASKA

You’ve just marveled at Alaska’s great receding Mendenhall Glacier and have heeded the ranger’s suggestion to head to a nearby stream. Even forewarned, you’re still startled by the sight of the bear pushing purposefully through the high grass toward the shallow water.  As if scripted, she enters the stream. Snatches a slow moving, spawning salmon.  And drops it in the grass maybe 15 feet from your privileged perch on a fenced, raised boardwalk built expressly for this moment. Her two cubs join her, but get little of this catch, as the sow bites hungrily into the fish.  You’re so close that you hear the salmon bones crunching.  - John Grossmann

 

F16

MINNESOTA

Mall of America…where else can you ride a roller coaster, see a movie, eat in any one of 60 restaurants, witness a wedding in a Vegas-style marriage chapel, shop for Chanel, buy naughty lingerie or a hockey stick and have any part of your body pierced? Minneapolis itself was an eye-opening experience for this admitted New York City snob.  - Shari Hartford

 

F2

HONOLULU

While checking out the Saturday Farmer’s Market at Kapi’olani Community College in Honolulu, my husband and I ventured up to the hillside cactus and succulent garden on the campus. Pretty wonderful we thought. And then we discovered the “po.e.tree,” a virtual tree of poems written by visitors and clipped onto a hodgepodge of branches. (See if you can find mine in the pic.) Best part, though, was spotting Moriso Teraoka, a 100th Infantry Battalion Vet who founded the garden in ’88 with a donation of plants and still helps to maintain it with a battalion of volunteers (that’s him hiking up the stairs). Sweet guy for such a prickly project. - Linda Hayes

 

F17

ST. PETERSBURG, RUSSIA

I’m not one for life-sized, wax replicas of historical figures. But in the Yusupov Palace on the Moika River in St. Petersburg, the waxen likenesses of the men who attempted the murder of Rasputin– and of the infamous Siberian “Mad Monk” himself at the end of the table–changed my mind. There, in the dark and creaky basement, the aristocracy will give the huge, fire-eyed peasant poison enough to kill a horse….but not, it turned out, to kill him. Instead, the seemingly indestructible mystic will undergo one of the most bizarre and protracted demises in history. It’s a mesmerizing and memorable stage set. - Dalma Heyn 

 

F3

THE GALAPAGOS ISLANDS

Floreana was the highlight of our family trip to Ecuador. Spent one perfect day viewing century-old tortoises, dining at a ranch with descendants of the island’s first settlers, and then snorkeling by ourselves with mega-sized sea turtles and none-too-shy sea lions. -Steve Jermanok

 

F18

AMSTERDAM

My Best 2013 Travel Moment was witnessing, firsthand, the power of travel to heal. In June, still reeling from the death of my mother and difficult ongoing divorce negotiations, I went to Amsterdam to do two stories for EPTR. Just being airborne gave my spirits a lift; experiencing a healing Watsu spa treatment gave me the first chance to unexpectedly be in touch with my mourning and the gifts of my mother’s life. New vistas, new energy, new perspective and new hope for the future sound like a lot of baggage to put onto a four-day trip, but that’s what happened. Travel expands and travel can help the healing process. I discovered that, and am grateful for it. - Mary Alice Kellogg

 

F19

LONDON

I rented an attic apartment atop a house in the Kilburn section of northwest London for two weeks – very basic, but light-filled, quiet and equipped with a small kitchen and bath – and spent my days writing, looking at art, and walking, walking, walking as I discovered areas and aspects of the city that, despite having visited nearly a dozen times before, were previously unknown to me. It was, far and away, the most enjoyable travel experience of my life. - Marc Kristal

 

F20

MAMMOTH MOUNTAIN, CA

Last April, the ski writers association held its 50th anniversary meeting at Mammoth Mountain, in California. The day I arrived it seemed like spring and I was concerned about having enough snow. O me of little faith! The first morning, I awoke and discovered that a storm overnight had covered the mountain and our base area with a blanket of new snow. We skied joyfully the next few days (though it was a tad windy!) On one particular day, I skied with a retired ski writer who spends many of her days in Vermont. She was not just beautiful to watch; she was swift. I had trouble keeping up with her. When I asked how old she was, she said in a conspiratorial voice: “I’m 84, but I don’t want people to know.” I replied: “You’re my hero!” - Grace Lichtenstein

 

F21

THE LOIRE VALLEY

Even though I’ve lived in Paris for years, I hadn’t done a long, comprehensive trip of the Loire Valley chateaux in many years, so it was a huge pleasure to rediscover their magnificence during a week-long trip this past May, the perfect time for visiting this part of France. I especially loved Chenonceau for its fairy-tale elegance and Villandry for its magnificent gardens and history–it was restored by a passionate couple–Joachim Carvallo, a Spanish nobleman, and Anne Coleman, a Pennsylvania steel heiress, who met while studying medicine in Paris. Other great finds were the Restaurant Olivier Arlot in Montbazon and the superb wines of the Domaine de la Taille aux Loups by winemaker Jacky Blot in Montlouis. - Alec Lobrano

 

F22

PRAGUE

I expected to be overwhelmed by Prague’s wealth of baroque, art nouveau, and gothic buildings. But I was speechless when I discovered cubist architecture unique to the Czech Republic. In 1911, Joseph Gočár designed the Herbst department store, now the landmark House of the Black Madonna and the Grand Café Orient where I had a cubist donut. Those prismatic architectural forms also welcomed me, a privileged houseguest, to my friends’ flat. - Julie Maris/Semel

 

F6

RAROTONGA

We’re on Rarotonga, a reef-ringed isle in the middle of the South Pacific. Rarotonga has palm trees and beaches and tropical fish, but it’s best known for its church singing. We go to church. The singing is magnificent; harmonies that start with a couple of men in a back pew, then ascend through the pews and climax with the choir. I’m floored with the beauty. That’s the first revelation. The second comes when I notice what one of the choir ladies is doing during the sermon. Happily, Effin Older caught the moment with her Canon. – Jules Older & Effin Older

 

F23

SPAIN

Tapas crawl in San Sebastian, spiritual heart of Spanish tapas culture. - Larry Olmsted

 

F7

SANTA FE

The highlight for 2013 has to be our July visit to the Santa Fe International Folk Art Market. This colorful gathering of some 150 artisans from all over the world–Korea, Israel, Mexico, Tajikistan, you name it–lets market-goers get up close and personal with the men and women who bring their wares and sell them on the spot. So you’re free to strike up a conversation with a woman from the Ok Pop Tok weaving collective in Laos, or a wood carver from Mexico who’s been proclaimed a national living treasure. One day we attended a lecture and demonstration of Tuvan throat singing, which turned out to be both fascinating and remarkably moving. (Quick: Can you find Tuva on a map?). Even better, the artisans are given the tools to return home and work in their villages to build solid businesses from their traditional crafts. All in all, we look forward to making it an annual pilgrimage.  - Tom Passavant & Karen Glenn (photo)

 

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KAUAI

The view over Hanalei Bay on the north shore of Kauai must be one of the wondrous in the world, a backdrop of rugged mountains that form the Napali Coast, a dragons’ back covered in green. This is where my wife, daughter and I went on a short voyage on a handmade sailing canoe, crafted and captained by a local guy named Trevor Cabell. Trevor took us snorkeling among 250 pound sea turtles and provided commentary on a 60-something local surfing legend as the guy caught the biggest wave of the day, 50 yards from where we floated. Then Trevor hoisted sail and off we went on a thrill ride across the waves racing into Hanalei Bay. With the extraordinary green background, it was not hard to imagine Polynesians sailing the Pacific and approaching this same shore. Covered in salt spray, we seemed to be  flying over the breaking waves, as Trevor guided the outrigger using his paddle as a tiller. When the canoe finally touched the beach, I realized that what felt like a journey had been merely a two hour trip on the Bay. That’s when you know that the going is good. – Everett Potter

 

Oscar Wilde sculpture

DUBLIN

An unexpected breath of joy in colored stone: A leafy retreat in Dublin’s Merrion Square shelters a beloved memorial to Oscar Wilde, nonchalantly lounging on a massive boulder in a natty green jacket with quilted red lapels and cuffs, looking at his long-time childhood home across the street at 1 Merrion Sq. Nearby, Wilde witticisms, graffiti-like, cover two black obelisks, to wit, “I have nothing to declare except my genius.” - Joan Scobey

 

F24

NYC

New York City — where I’ve lived twice in my adult lifetime—once again welcomed me like an old friend in 2013. My husband, Joe, and I explored Manhattan from stem to stern, including a tour of the historic aircraft carrier Intrepid at Pier 86, a stroll along the Highline elevated park and a preview of the poignant and powerful 9/11 Memorial.  We made a delicious detour to Chef Mario Batali’s Eataly, browsed the beautiful book collection at Rizzoli and meandered through Central Park on perfect fall days. You can go home again, even if just for a holiday. - Julie Snyder

 

F25

JAMAICA

My most memorable travel moment of the year was rafting in Port Antonio, Jamaica. A “captain” on the log raft beside us was coaxed into singing the “Banana Boat Song (Day O),” a traditional Jamaican folk song made popular by Harry Belafonte.  The gentle soft crooning combined with the murmuring sound of the mini rapids of the river was soothing. (At least until the person next to me decided to sing along.)  - Gerrie Summers

 

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OREGON

I was on a ski trip to Oregon’s Mt. Bachelor last March. The nearest hotel was about 20 miles away in the town of Bend. I didn’t relish the idea of driving that far every day to get to the slopes, but then I didn’t know the highway ran straight through the Deschutes National Forest. Massive rocks, towering trees, and sweeping vistas at every turn. Hope to do again soon. – Bill Triplett

 

F5

AMSTERDAM

Best  Moment:  Standing with my wife in late July afternoon sunshine looking at our new home in an old canal house on Amsterdam’s Herengracht Canal. – Richard West

 

F27

SAN JUAN, PR

Paddle boarding with my bride — this was our 25th anniversary celebration — in Condado Lagoon, San Juan. Manatees with Ben Turpin mustaches (Note to 16th-century sailors: You really thought they were mermaids?) kept rising to the surface, where they lingered so we could get a good look at them. From there we went to Roberto Trevino’s Bar Gitano, a tapas bar in the Condado. Who knew they’d have soshito peppers sauteed in olive oil and salt? We polished them off and then drank way too much, but what the hell, great food + a great lady. - Ed Wetschler

 

F28

PARK CITY, UTAH

This June, I finally understood what local say about Park City, Utah – you come for winter, you stay for summer. I discovered the wonders of mountain biking on terrain I’ve skied so many years. And I dined on Main Street with 2,300 others one summer’s night to experience the resort’s fine cuisine. – David McKay Wilson

Steve Jermanok’s Active Travels: Canadian Rockies & Alaska by Rail & Sea

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Explore Canada and Alaska by rial

Explore Canada and Alaska by rial

Vacations by Rail, the Chicago-based travel company, has just announced a phenomenal 16-day vacation that combines train travel on arguably the best train in North America, Canada’s Rocky Mountaineer, with an Alaskan cruise on Holland America, ending with an Alaskan railroad jaunt from Anchorage to Denali National Park. Coined the Rocky Mountaineer and Alaska by Sea and Land package, board the Rocky Mountaineer and get ready for a soul-stirring train ride through the snowcapped peaks and cobalt blue glacial waters of the Canadian Rockies. You have two days in Vancouver before you board the ms Zaandam for a weeklong cruse on Alaska’s Inside Passage, stopping at Juneau, Skagway, and Glacier Bay before arriving in Anchorage. Spend a day and night in town, before taking your last train on to Denali, home to 20,157-foot Mount McKinley, and your final destination of Fairbanks. 2013 departures are available May 21, June 18, July 16, and August 13 and 27 and prices start at $3,579 per person based on double occupancy.

 

steveSteve Jermanok As a columnist for National Geographic Adventure, adventure travel expert at Budget Travel, and regular contributor on outdoor recreation for OutsideMen’s JournalHealth, and Sierra, Steve Jermanok has written more than 1,000 articles on the outdoors.He’s also authored or co-authored 11 books, including Outside Magazine’s Adventure Guide to New England and Men’s Journal’s The Great Life. His latest book is Go Now! Put Your Life on Pause and See the World. He’s currently an adventure travel expert at Away.com and blogs daily at  Active Travels.

Steve Jermanok’s Active Travels: Hotel La Ferme, Quebec

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La Ferme, Baie St. Paul, Quebec

La Ferme, Baie St. Paul, Quebec

Every day I receive press releases about the next glitzy resort opening, set to make its splashy debut in some corner of the globe. Many of these upscale properties charge in excess of $1,000 a night, your entrance fee to a world of exclusivity. Forget the local community. You’ll be hidden behind gates and fences, where maybe, if you’re lucky, your server that night comes from somewhere inside that country. Sustainability, the buzzword of the 90s and 00s, seems to have been replaced, as of late, by excessive opulence. Then I laid eyes on Hotel La Ferme in Quebec’s Charlevoix region and I can breathe a sigh of relief, knowing that someone gets it. They have finally built a resort worthy of the new millennium.

When Daniel Gauthier’s wooden barn, the largest structure in Canada, burned to the ground accidentally during a Quebec holiday in 2007, he began to reimagine the property he wanted to create in Baie-Saint-Paul. He ended up housing the 145 rooms and lofts in five separate pavilions reminiscent of farm buildings from yesteryear. The simple wooden exterior of the buildings hides a whimsical and contemporary European décor, where rolling barn doors might open to the bathroom or the family suite might come with comfortable bunk beds for each child. Yet, Gauthier’s next move is what won me over. He added 12 rooms, each with four beds, as his own version of a hostel. Gauthier knows that the nearby ski area, Le Massif, attracts a large crowd of young skiers. He wanted to offer them a great place to stay for only $49 per bed.
There is no separation between Hotel La Ferme and the community. In fact, Gauthier made a mandate that food and craftsmanship should be produced within a 50-kilometer radius of Baie-Saint-Paul, if possible. So that salmon and emu meat was raised locally, the cheeses and bread a Charlevoix specialty, the red beer was brewed just down the road. The wooden trays and “do not disturb” signs in the rooms are manufactured by a group of local artisans who had the misfortune of not graduating high school. On Sundays, from mid-June to mid-October, the hotel invites 20 local farmers to showcase their fruits, vegetables, cheeses, and breads in a market just outside the lobby.
Yes, there’s a spa with six treatment rooms, a room for yoga, a bar and lounge around a fireplace in the main building, and a café that makes arguably the best café au lait I’ve had this side of the Atlantic. But again, Gauthier, one of the founders of Cirque du Soleil, chose to be innovative. He has returned to his performing roots by offering a banquet space that can double as a theater, screening room, or dance hall. Since Hotel La Ferme’s opening last June, they have featured many Quebecois performers, including cabaret singers, theater troupes, and DJs.
I love it when a local son or daughter becomes successful and gives back to the community. But in the case of Daniel Gauthier, he did so with class, style, and forward thinking. I’m hoping his ideas catch on with other hoteliers.
steve  Steve Jermanok As a columnist for National Geographic Adventure, adventure travel expert at Budget Travel, and regular contributor on outdoor recreation for Outside, Men’s Journal, Health, and Sierra, Steve Jermanok has written more than 1,000 articles on the outdoors.He’s also authored or co-authored 11 books, including Outside Magazine’s Adventure Guide to New England and Men’s Journal’s The Great Life. His latest book is Go Now! Put Your Life on Pause and See the World. He’s currently an adventure travel expert at Away.com and blogs daily at Active Travels.

Steve Jermanok’s Active Travels: Quebec’s Winter Carnival

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If you love Paris in the springtime, then you’ll adore Quebec City in the wintertime, where, for 17 days, the party never stops.Quebec City’s Winter Carnival is the largest in the world, attracting more than one million people. I was one of those fortunate people to arrive in this fortified city on the first day of the 2013 Winter Carnival. I spent the morning sledding down an ice chute, viewing the impressive ice castle, made from 1600 blocks of ice, eating maple syrup on snow, and playing a human game of foosball. Attached to bars with seatbelts, you slide all over the ice trying to kick the ball into the goal. But the party really started on Saturday night, when top DJs from Montreal and Toronto played a mesmerizing mix of hip-hop and electronica to a crowd of revelers outside the ice castle. Locals carry cane-like red sticks filled with a potent drink called Caribou, made of whiskey, red wine, and maple syrup, which certainly added to the dancing frenzy. When Bonhomme, the popular snowman and revered host of the festivities started to boogie, the crowd went wild.
This is just the start of the 58th edition of the Quebec City Winter Carnival. Still to come is Le Grande Virée, a dogsled race that cruises through the heart of the historic Old City, and the ice canoeing competition, where paddlers sprint across the turgid waters of the St. Lawrence Seaway. New this year is a video installation, where filmmakers project images onto four of the iconic buildings in town, creating a 3-D interplay. There’s also a brasserie, serving 25 microbrews from across Quebec. So if you have no plans yet for February vacation week, it might be the time to experience some joie de vivre in Quebec City.
steve    Steve Jermanok As a columnist for National Geographic Adventure, adventure travel expert at Budget Travel, and regular contributor on outdoor recreation for Outside, Men’s Journal, Health, and Sierra, Steve Jermanok has written more than 1,000 articles on the outdoors.He’s also authored or co-authored 11 books, including Outside Magazine’s Adventure Guide to New England and Men’s Journal’s The Great Life. His latest book is Go Now! Put Your Life on Pause and See the World. He’s currently an adventure travel expert at Away.com and blogs daily atActive Travels.

Steve Jermanok’s Active Travels: Hiking Cape Breton, Nova Scotia

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Skyline Trail, Nova Scotia

There’s a reason Travel & Leisure magazine named Cape Breton the number one island destination in North America and third in the world. The landscape is a mesmerizing mix of rolling summits, precipitous cliffs, high headlands, sweeping white sand beaches, and glacially carved lakes, all bordered by the ocean. The Cabot Trail hugs the Gulf of St. Lawrence on the rugged northwestern edge of the island, where around every bend you want to pull over, spew expletives of joy at the stupendous vista, and take another snapshot. Indeed, it’s as close to Big Sur as the East Coast gets. Add bald eagles, moose, coyotes, and pilot whales fluking in the nearby waters and you want to leave the car behind and soak it all up.

One of the most popular trails, Skyline, is a 9.2 km (5.7-mile) loop atop the ridge of a coastal headland. I took the 3-hour loop yesterday morning, when the rain that’s been following me the past two days subsided, replaced by blue skies and a trace of thin clouds. I veered right at the start to walk through a bog topped with pines and carpeted with moss. I took deep breaths of the sweet pines as I meandered over the roots and rocks on the grassy path. Eventually, the trail snakes to the left offering expansive views of the sea. At the halfway point, a boardwalk leads down the headland and wow, what a majestic stroll it is. To the left is a backbone of peaks, to the right is all ocean as far as your eye can see. I sat down on a bench and bit into my honeycrisp apple, watching a whale spout. It was hard to leave, but after having my fill, I made my way back on the loop. Within minutes, I was staring at a mother moose and her calf. Talk about icing on the cake.
  Steve Jermanok As a columnist for National Geographic Adventure, adventure travel expert at Budget Travel, and regular contributor on outdoor recreation for Outside, Men’s Journal, Health, and Sierra, Steve Jermanok has written more than 1,000 articles on the outdoors.He’s also authored or co-authored 11 books, including Outside Magazine’s Adventure Guide to New England and Men’s Journal’s The Great Life. His latest book is Go Now! Put Your Life on Pause and See the World. He’s currently an adventure travel expert at Away.com and blogs daily at Active Travels.

Anita Stewart, Founder of Food Day Canada

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Dining at the Wickaninnish Inn in Tofino, British Columbia

 

Interview By Everett Potter

On July 30, 2011, chefs, farmers and backyard barbecue fans will celebrate Canada’s bounty by cooking, eating and raising a glass at Food Day Canada. This is a nationwide event that was created by culinary activist, educator, and writer Anita Stewart. For more than 25 years, Stewart has been a tireless speaker and advocate for Canadian farmers, fishermen, chefs and restaurants. In her 14 books, she’s tapped into the culinary history of this vast country, from the French cuisine in rural Quebec and the food of First Nations’ communities to chic restaurants in Vancouver and Toronto. Long before the term “locavore” was in vogue, Stewart was all about local, regional and seasonal. As Food Day Canada approaches, she took a few minutes to talk about the big day and her work.

Anita Stewart

 

Everett Potter: Anita, what will happen on Food Day Canada ?

Anita Stewart: It’s the largest locavore celebration in Canadian history.  It’s a big, continent-wide party that is driven by the participation of an invited community of great chefs.  Many of them are the innovators and opinion leaders, the food voices that make a difference. In most cities I have the A list restaurants. Others are not famous nor renowned but are deeply committed to their regional community of producers.  On Saturday, July 30th, they virtually join hands, cook Canadian, and tell the world. The menus are posted at www.fooddaycanada.ca .

There’s also a public component. After all, public involvement is where it began with the World’s Longest Barbecue, which I organized in 2003. Over the years, the menus have been posted from the high Arctic to B.C. Gulf Islands to rural Atlantic Canada.  You know I like to say that there’s Mother’s Day and Father’s Day and Valentine’s Day, they are all about the eaters. Food Day Canada is about the producers and the ingredients and the chefs, a real time for them to strut their stuff.

 

Newfoundland

EP: Give us an idea of the kinds of events that will occur on Food Day Canada.

AS: Events are just now being developed but I do know for sure that the chefs of St John’s Newfoundland will greet the sunrise on Signal Hill at 5:37 a.m. Signal Hill is one of Canada’s National Historic Sites, the reception point of the first transatlantic wireless signal by Guglielmo Marconi in 1901. So the chefs, lead by Roary MacPherson a born and bred islander, will kicking off Food Day Canada before  heading back to the Sheraton St. John’s to serve forth a typical Newfoundland breakfast complete with salt fish and baked beans and scrunchions.They are donating most of the $10 cost to the St. John’s food bank. Then Food Day Canada follows the sun with restaurant events all across the nation and finally ending at The Wickaninnish Inn with a Dungeness crab boil on Chesterman Beach in Tofino.  (FYI…The Wick, has just been named as the #1 Top Resort in Canada, #1 overall top Accommodation property in Canada and the Inn’s Ancient Cedars Spa was also voted the#1 Best Hotel Spa in Canada and #3 Best Hotel Spa in the USA and Canada in the  2011 Travel + Leisure Magazine’s World’s Best Awards.) There will be food events at a dozen or so of our National Historic Sites as well, such as Fort Louisbourg in Nova Scotia.

 

Chef Norman Laprise and business partner Christine Lamarche of Montreal's Toque

EP: How many restaurants are participating and what are they doing for Food Day Canada?

AS: About 290 and I am still adding them so we are looking at 300.  Even though I have been traveling and eating my way around Canada for three decades, a lot has changed.  We have an incredibly dynamic food community. I have asked them to do what they”re most comfortable with, from a small prix fixe to a longer menu in honor of Food Day Canada. Some are student run, like at Benchmark at the Canadian Food and Wine Institute in Niagara, where the food is paired with the medal winning wines, which are also produced by students. There will be an amazing picnic on the rocky headlands of Ferryland lighthouse which, by the way, is the most easterly point where there’s foodservice in Canada.

 

Chef Nick Nutting of the Wickaninnish Inn, British Columbia

EP: How aware are Canadians — and Americans, for that matter — of Canada’s bounty and abundance?

For both Canada and the U.S., food is so elemental that’s it’s been traditionally taken for granted.  However, the good news is that times are changing and we are wisely exploring our own food sheds. We wonder, we question. Suffice it to say that we’re getting there.    But we have a long, long way to go.  And this is the journey that I want to encourage and perhaps, for a while yet, lead.

 

Visit  Food Day Canada

 

Active Travels: Fundy Footpath

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The Bay of Fundy, New Brunswick

By Steve Jermanok

One of my favorite Canadian adventures was an assignment I had for Backpacker magazine and later, The Boston Globe, to backpack the Long Range Traverse in Newfoundland’s Gros Morne National Park. Led by Bob Hicks, owner of Gros Morne Adventures, the 4-day trek took us to spine-tingling vistas of landlocked fjords and atop snowcapped peaks where the caribou and moose far outnumber other backpackers. An equally impressive backpacking excursion is along one of the last stretches of wilderness on the Atlantic Seaboard in New Brunswick. Overlooking the Bay of Fundy, the Fundy Footpath is a moderate to strenuous 24-mile trek that crosses a river, skirts the beach, and goes up and down a dozen or so ravines, rewarding backpackers with breathtaking views of the rugged shoreline. Camping at primitive sites, moose, caribou, and bald eagle are common sightings.

 

Steve Jermanok As a columnist for National Geographic Adventure, adventure travel expert at Budget Travel, and regular contributor on outdoor recreation for Outside, Men’s Journal, Health, and Sierra, Steve Jermanok has written more than 1,000 articles on the outdoors. He’s also authored or co-authored 11 books, including Outside Magazine’s Adventure Guide to New England and Men’s Journal’s The Great Life. His latest book is Go Now! Put Your Life on Pause and See the World, due out late 2010. He’s currently an adventure travel expert at Away.com and blogs daily at Active Travels.

Polar Bear Express: On the Tundra with Natural Habitat Adventures

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A pregnant polar bear along Hudson Bay. Photo by Karen Glenn.

By Karen Glenn

We saw the first polar bear even before we reached the Tundra Lodge. Devon, our driver, stopped the Polar Rover as Leah, one of our guides, pointed out the pregnant female resting on the rocks overlooking Hudson Bay. All 18 guests shot photos out the windows or stood on the open back platform absorbed in watching. In the Polar Rover, a giant bus with wide aisles, huge wheels and window seats for all, we were up high and safe from any bears.

The day was windy and overcast, but the tundra was starkly beautiful. Red willow and green and orange lichen dotted a landscape crisscrossed with streams and small kettle lakes. Mama bear moved from rock to rock as the guides brought out lunch—soup, a choice of sandwiches, pasta salad, homemade cookies, and hot chocolate. It was the first time, but not the last, that we would enjoy meals in the presence of majestic polar bears.

The Polar Rover. Photo by Karen Glenn.

After lunch, the Polar Rover negotiated former military roads, bumping over rocks and through small lakes at 5-to-10 miles-an-hour. Our destination was the Tundra Lodge a few miles outside Churchill, Manitoba, the “polar bear capital of the world.” Bears gather each October and November, waiting for Hudson Bay to freeze so they can hunt ring seals on the ice.  The Churchill area is first to freeze; rivers run into the bay there, and fresh water freezes faster than salt.

The Tundra Lodge. Photo by Karen Glenn.

At the lodge, another treat awaited us. A five-year-old bear was sleeping beneath its wheels. He crawled out to watch as the Polar Rover docked with the Tundra Lodge. During the three and a half days we spent there, our feet wouldn’t touch outside ground. Laid out like a  train, the lodge is positioned at each season’s start for optimal polar bear viewing. It has two sleeping cars, a lounge, a dining room with an open kitchen, and a staff car. There is no wifi or other communication. In the sleeping cars, guests have individual compartments, each with a single bunk, a window, and a luggage shelf. One sleeping car has one bathroom, the other two.

After settling in, we met at 5p.m. for hors d’oeuvres and drinks. Then it was on to a tasty dinner of spinach salad with mandarin oranges, honey-lime chicken, wild rice, roasted vegetables, and chocolate mousse, prepared by chefs Sasha and Beverley.

"Buddy." Photo by Karen Glenn.

While we ate, we kept an eye on our resident bear, whom we named Buddy.  Buddy was as interested in us as were in him. He stretched out tall against the lodge trying to look in the windows. He poked his nose up under the platforms between cars, staring at us through the grate. He entertained us with somersaults, rolling on his back, feet up in happy baby pose.

After dinner, we had our first presentation. Leah and Rinie, our other guide, are bear experts, and each night presented a slide show filled with polar bear lore. We learned about everything from the danger global warming poses to their survival to the bears’ reproductive habits.

"Buddy" checking out the Tundra Lodge. Photo by Karen Glenn.

The next day began with 7a.m. breakfast followed by Polar Rover excursions, lunch, more Polar Rover excursions, happy hour, dinner, and presentation. The group bonded as we shared everything from pork spaetzle to sightings of caribou, ptarmigans, arctic foxes, and a mother bear with two cubs. But the true glue was Buddy. So we were upset when we woke up one morning and Buddy was missing.

Sasha revealed that a bigger bear had chased Buddy away during the night. We worried about him and, in retaliation, named the other bear Baddy. We breathed a collective sigh of relief a little later when Buddy emerged from his hiding place in the willows and greeted us at the Polar Rover.

Mama bear with two cubs. Photo by Karen Glenn.

When we left a few days later to spend time in Churchill–visiting museums, going dog sledding or helicoptering (optional), shopping, and lunching–Leah talked about “polar etiquette.” You never know how many bears you’ll see on a trip. Nature is a crapshoot, as is the exact time the bay freezes over. Come too early and few bears will have arrived. Come too late, and the bears will have left. So one group should never tell another how many bears they’ve seen. You don’t want to raise or douse expectations. So like Leah advised, I’ll just say I had a “good experience.”  Or maybe I won’t. I’ll just tell the truth: I had a magnificent one.

How to Go:  Natural Habitat Adventures runs the Tundra Lodge Adventure tours, as well as other polar bear tours, each October and November. Prices for the Tundra Lodge Adventure begin at $5,995, including internal airfare, lodging in Winnipeg, and meals. Other NatHab polar bear tours begin at $4,595.  For information, visit www.nathab.com, or call 1-800/543-8917.

Check our more of Karen Glenn’s polar bear photos at Karen Glenn Photo

Karen Glenn is a freelance writer, poet, and photographer based in Carbondale, Colorado. Her writing and photography have appeared in Diversion, McCall’s, Edible Aspen, Seventeen, Savvy, Good Food, Self, Aspen Magazine, the New York Times, Mademoiselle, and many other places. Her poem Nightshift was featured on NPR’s All Things Considered.

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