Alberta, Canada

Oh, Alberta. It’s on the bucket list of many and it certainly is, was on mine. September 2022.

The beautiful Canadian Rockies. Within four hours reach via airplane. It is worth it and a must see.

Canmore. A resort town of sorts. It definitely is a place to consider home. A great community to stay while you’re exploring the area. A favorite for brunch, breakfast was at Graze. https://grazefoodanddrink.ca/ The Graze Egg Classic was all-around fabulous. Hats off to the chef who contributed, did it all.

Banff. Walk the town. Take in a meal. Do the Banff Gondola. See the sunset. Have a bear (or a beer) at Three Bears Brewery https://threebearsbanff.com/, a lunch at Nourish (especially if you’re vegan). The Boss Bear Burger was a hit as well as their cocktail of the day. https://www.nourishbistro.com/. And for a real treat, have dinner at The Bison. https://www.thebison.ca/ The ambiance with the live music and the tasty meal is a showstopper. The Bison Burger, The Bison Caesar (pork belly croutons) and the Sunrise Meadow cocktail and Black Sage Cabernet Sauvignon was a hit! We missed seeing the elk herd walking the streets of town. https://banff.com/banff-gondola/

Check out the Jasper National Park… Icefields Parkway. The glacier blue lakes, the exquisite cliffs and jagged mountains against the blue sky. We took the trip to https://icefieldsparkway.com/ https://jaspercolumbiaicefield.com/ Staying here would be an amazing experience at the right time of year https://www.banffjaspercollection.com/hotels/glacier-view-lodge/

Lake Louise. Walk the trail or get in a canoe. Take in a bite and a view at the Fairmont Chateau Hotel. https://www.fairmont.com/lake-louise/ I can recommend the Candied Farmers Vegetable Bowl. So good.

Don’t miss out. Plan ahead. Enjoy the beauty, the landscape, the destination.

Victoria BC and more

Are you wanting to explore Vancouver Island a bit more? Taking the Black Ball/Coho Ferry from Port Angeles to Victoria BC is a good way to travel depending on your location. Making Victoria your home base, it makes for a good 2-3 night adventure. Traveling further north would mean a 1-2 week trip. So much to see, experience.

In Port Angeles, while waiting to board the ferry, make a stop at both the Next Door Gastro Pub and then the Country Aire Natural Foods Market for some snacks, lunch or other to take aboard. At Next Door, the fish tacos (non-blackened and grilled), were ordered, the cabbage and pickled adds really made it tasty. The local Lazy Soul hot sauce is recommended and can be purchased at the market mentioned here. https://www.camarket.org/ https://nextdoorgastropub.com/

Victoria’s Inner Harbour – Walk through the Empress. View the indigenous totem poles. Enjoy the hanging flowering baskets around town. Shop for your tourism swag. https://www.travel-british-columbia.com/blog/where-to-see-totem-poles-in-british-columbia

Eat. NUBO Kitchen + Bar (they have a busy take-out option too). https://nubokitchen.com/

Stay. Strathcona. http://strathcona.victoria-hotelcanada.com/en/

Malahat Sky Walk – See the natural beauty of the trees and animals made of branches, twigs along the walkway. The 360-degree views from the Spiral Tower are amazing. You’ll see views of the Salish Sea, Saanich Peninsula, and more. Walk the tower and take the slide down if you’re up for it. All abilities are welcome. Those that work there are so friendly. The gift shop has many options that you’ll want to take home with you (I did!). https://malahatskywalk.com/

Cowichan Bay – Shop in the village. Sailboats, fishing, houseboats, and history of Cowichan Bay is showcased here. The Halibut Burger and Pan-fried Oysters hit the spot at The Bay Pub. And we got our first taste of the Victoria local Fat Tug Beer. Yes!

Visit a winery or two while in this area. Many of the grapes, varietals are unique to Vancouver Island and you’ll try something new I’m sure. I was able to get my hands on a beautiful book named ‘Cedar + Salt’ – Vancouver Island recipes from forest, farm, field, and sea. The natural aspects of it really sings to me.

Kinsol Trestle – The Kinsol Trestle is also part of the Cowichan area. You’ll definitely get your steps in by visiting this 144-foot high attraction. This wooden trestle was originally built to transport timber (and other) by rail through the canyons, ravines. It was completed in 1920 and then after 1979, no trains made their way across it and not preserved. In 2007 plans were made to restore it and it is now part of the Trans Canada Trail network and it remains one of the loftiest wood railway trestles in the world. There are two points of access. Enjoy the views, have a picnic. So cool! https://www.tourismcowichan.com/explore/destinations-attractions/kinsol-trestle/ and https://www.cvrd.ca/1379/Kinsol-Trestle

Dinner at The Snug Pub at Oak Bay Beach Hotel. Great views of the Pacific Ocean and we can attest that the beef burger, fish & chips, seafood chowder are hits. Oak Bay is a great neighborhood with fabulous beaches, like Willows Beach. There are unique trees in this area called Garry Oak and contributes to it being a photographers paradise. https://www.oakbaybeachhotel.com/ https://www.mustbevictoria.com/willows-beach

Butchart Gardens – in Spring, you’ll see tulips, hanging baskets, roses, and a lot more in bloom. It is open year-round and you’ll see different plantings based on seasons. https://www.butchartgardens.com/

Fisherman’s Wharf neighborhood – Take a harbour or whale watching tour, shop, dine. Check out the commercial vessels, floating homes, boats and more. Eat at The Fish Store at Fisherman’s Wharf. Sooooo good! Enjoyed Fat Tug IPA, Halibut & Chips, and Fraser River Sturgeon while sharing a table in the sun with other visitors to the area. https://driftwoodbeer.ca/beers/fat-tug-ipa/ https://floatingfishstore.com/the-fish-store-menu/ https://gvha.ca/marinas-facilities/fishermans-wharf/

From Fisherman’s Wharf, we walked the neighborhood to The Breakwater District at Ogden Point, did the walkway and viewed the large cruise ships in port. This was a great add to the day before leaving Victoria. https://www.victoriaharbourhistory.com/locations/outer-harbour/the-breakwater-district/

A sampling of cheer. Go often.

Supreme Dumplings

Supreme Dumplings in Bellevue, WA is one of the first in the USA partnering with former Executive Chef of W Hotel Taipei. Chef Wang is a master of Xiao Long Bao. The decor is something like you’d see globally. It’s on the small size, tables are close together… and getting rave reviews! Make a reservation online or risk being a walk-in. We happened to get there when they opened on a Monday and were thankfully able to dine-in. Weijin and the team are fabulous….providing good service and info of the menu.

The items chosen were based on one of us being vegetarian and we wanted to celebrate, try a variety of entrees. The menu consisted of Stir-Fry String Beans (heavenly with wild mushrooms and carrots too…see the pic), Supreme Pork Xiao Long Bao, Pan-Fried Leak Pie, Steamed Vegetable Dumplings, and Wild Mushroom Fried Rice (so good!). Also, a cold Matcha Green Tea was had. The Spicy Wontons were not available so I hope to try this dish another time, among others. All are recommended.

I’ll look forward to returning.

https://www.supreme-dumplings.com/

The Cottage

The Cottage in Bothell entertains and delights at all hours Tuesday-Sunday. Go for brunch aka mid day, happy hour, or dinner. The Cottage serves breakfast all day until 3 pm. The main dishes, the sides, the brunch, and the cocktail options begs you to come back. Check out the sample menu and dream away.

Live music happens. Check out the various events too.

Reserve your table today. As they say…

All Things Delicious.

All Things Cozy.

Shown here: Lemon Cilantro Hummus Platter (the hummus is thicker once you dig into it), Roasted Tunisian Vegetable Melt and The Wedge (with chicken). The Pink Champagne Cocktail (not shown) is perfect for toasting the birthday girl.

The Lodge… Cedar + Elm and more

As the name suggests, I have to love this restaurant as I love the natural elements. I’ve been The Lodge at St. Edward Start Park twice in the last week. Thanks to a friend for introducing me. I’ve always liked to try new restaurants and explore the Pacific Northwest. I used to say I wanted to go to try a different restaurant or experience each month. That has not been the case but it’s never to late to renew this goal. It’s the beginning of 2022 so maybe I’ll make it a habit. Speaking of habits, ‘Habit’ is my word of 2022. I need to change some of mine and create new ones.

So, Cedar and Elm. The ambiance is European to me. There is a piano on Friday and Saturday evenings which really adds to it. If you check out their website, you’ll see the menu exudes holistic and sustainable, seasonal, local offerings for breakfast, lunch, dinner, brunch and more. The St. Edward High Tea on Thursdays speaks to me for a special afternoon out with a special family member or friend.

Cedar + Elm is located in The Lodge at St. Edward State Park. Check out the history of at https://www.thelodgeatstedward.com/. The Lodge at St Edward State Park is part of Columbia Hospitality which showcases their fine portfolio including the Salish Lodge and Spa, another of my favorites. https://www.columbiahospitality.com/portfolio.php Be prepared to use the valet parking service after 5 pm as the parking lots around the site are Discover Pass related and close for the evening. https://www.thelodgeatstedward.com/dining At some point I would like to explore the trails at the park.

The menu is seasonal. As this is Winter, the first time around was the Hearth Roasted Mero Sea Bass with glazed shitake mushrooms and a bite of the apple tatin and pecan torte for dessert. I’m not a big dessert person but it was a nice ending to a good experience. I would skip the chips and dip as it’s just an unnecessary calorie filler. My friend had the Roasted Parsnip & Cauliflower soup (a big hit!) and the Crispy Shaved Celery Salad. There were plenty of people, larger groups, romantic couples that took space amongst the tables.

The second visit was for happy hour in The Tonsorium Bar located downstairs. The bar used to be a barbershop back in the day when the building was a seminary. Prior to the visit we were able to walk the grounds on the sunny winter day. Trees are my thing so I was in a happy place. As it was my husband’s birthday, we did it up well. We ordered the following and all was tasty: Pork Sandwich with fries, Local Oysters on the Half Shell, Artisan American Cheeses, Pate de Campagne, and Crisp Arancini Di Pulpi along with a sparkling wine and more. The description noted of the pecan torte was ‘off the hook’ – pure pecan bliss without the sugary mess. Katie is fabulous!!! Also, enjoyed the chat and neo-flamenco guitar performance of Andre Feriante. https://www.andreferiante.com/

Another visit might include a stay here. The Lodge has 84 rooms and also hosts space for meetings, special events like a wedding, and has spa services. The local art shown among lodge/park is impressive. My personal favorite was the ‘Rivan Stump’ piece by Robert Williamson; made of salvaged wood with brass nails. One day. You can see these beauties behind the front desk too.

The following pics are a sampling of the lodge, park grounds, and items enjoyed.

Record Heat Wave in the #pnw

As June comes to a close, here in the Pacific Northwest, we’ve had record high temperatures. Higher than Miami, Dallas and other cities ever recorded. This is unprecedented as it is often hard to get tan lines before July. An example is:

Portland, OR – 116 degrees

Seattle, WA – 108 degrees

Pasco, WA – 118 degrees…since 1961

Many households do not have air conditioning here. I imagine that will slowly increase going forward. A common sense expense I think. And many will think ahead. Businesses closed, nature/plants and infrastructure took a beating. Can anyone say climate change?

What did you do to stay cool? The #pnw states are opening up! Options included being on the road, shopping in an air-conditioned store, movie theater, took a dip in the pool, bbq, a refreshing beverage, and more. I found a hand mister to be very handy, refreshing.

What will the rest of the summer bring? May our natural beauty be spared. And may the energy of #pnw thrive as we celebrate a bit of normal.

Nature’s wake up call

As May is coming to a close, the thing I remember most is the early wake up call from the Junco’s in the area. The Junco is my favorite bird, makes me happy and we’ve seen more this Spring than any other I think. The American robin has been plentiful as well. Funny… even though I may not be ready to be awake at 4:15 am, they like to sing their song and let us know they exist.

May is a good month to experience a spring in your step, baseball, flowers, out with the old and in with the new, the festival season, self-care, catching up with friends, and planning for the Summer ahead. There is hope. Let’s do this!

Latin Vibes

Need some Latin in your life? I did.

Twisted Cuban Cafe & Bar in Woodinville, WA. The tunes and art bring the ‘flavor’ and then there is the great selection of tasty dishes and specialty cocktails. The Fillete de Pescado was enjoyed and then the Twisted Cuban Sandwich with Yuca fries. Think Havana. https://www.twistedcubancafe.com/

And, if you don’t want to step outside, within 4 hours reach, but need a pick-me-up, get your steps in with Rick Bhullar Fitness on YouTube. Move to the Latin music workout.

2021…some options for getting out and about from Western Washington

  1. Take a Winter walk or hike
  2. Lake Crescent on the Olympic Peninsula
  3. Attend a social distance festival, concert or theater production
  4. Visit Canada (when the border opens)
  5. Mount Rainier – re-visit it and see the renovated Paradise Inn
  6. Stay in a Yurt
  7. Golf, Fish, Ski, Snowshoe…somewhere
  8. Takeout from Deru Market in Kirkland, WA
  9. Take the ferry from Seattle to Bainbridge Island for brunch outside
  10. Northwest Trek
  11. See Silver Falls in Oregon
  12. Spheres at the Amazon corporate office (when they re-open for tours)
  13. See the renovated Space Needle, glass floors
  14. Check out the updated Asian Art Museum
  15. See the movie Top Gun / Maverick (due out in July), especially if you loved the first one
  16. Take the portable fire pit out to the street and meet up with the neighbors for happy hour
  17. Travel outside of within 4 hours reach
  18. Go somewhere new; try something new
  19. Go somewhere that you haven’t been to in a number of years. Support the smaller businesses too.
  20. Go somewhere that you love, that makes you happy; one of your favorite places
  21. Do something notable EACH month of 2021 #mightnotsuck