??Journey or destination??

Exploring life experiences at home and beyond – Destination Happiness

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Rocky Mountaineer Day 2… or deserts and cities and delicious food

7:10am was to be our departure from the hotel to the train. Of course at 7:15am the driver was still chasing up a few stragglers before we could head to the stations. The sky was just starting to gain a faint blue hue, changing from the darkness of night.I always find it exciting to head off on journeys at this time of day.

Our drive to the station took us via a two-way bridge- a slim bridge- and this coach was anything but slim. The bus entered it as other cars joined from their end. In the middle there were fists raised and not so friendly words shouted from the cars as they reversed off the bridge to let the bus through. Think Google maps got this a bit wrong.

Soon it once again was “All aboard”.

Coffee was served as wafts of bacon and waffles filtered through the carriage. I grabbed the menu from the seat pocket and had my food sorted way, way before I was asked what I wanted.

Again food didn’t disappoint.

Breakfast entree was a cinnamon croissant and fruit salad – crisp grapes that crunched when you bit them, extra sweet pineapple that dripped juice, honey dew and rockmelon.The flavour of the melons took me back to childhood when melons were only eaten in season.

I chose the frittata with bacon. I just love the thinness of bacon in Canada. It fries up crinkly, with just the perfect amount of crispness and saltiness. I will miss this at home.

Jagged rock faces of black, red and grey reflecting their base minerals thrilled our eyes. Kamloops lake was fringed like the beaches we had seen on Vancouver island. Big boulders and tree logs washed to shore, resting on the boulders grey and white rounded boulders.

The environment began to change as we left Kamloops behind. The grasses dried, the trees were shorter and sparser.

We enjoyed lunch as watched the scenery pass by. The chicken had a mushroom sauce and it was so succulent. My favourite – baked cheesecake- was the dessert. Only thing missing was a huge dollop of whipped cream ( well that’s my opinion).

All too soon the scenery began urbanising, with scattered houses and barns first then suburban housing. Just before arriving into Vancouver the instrumental theme from Rocky the movie was blared through the carriage, and biscuits not unlike an ANZAC biscuit ( but with dried fruit) was handed out- and one more beverage from the cart. My beverage was another Caesar,. It is considered Canada’s national cocktail the hostess told me.. The ingredients are vodka, clam juice, tomato juice, Tabasco and Worcestershire sauce.

With a few toots our arrival was announced coming into the station. The Rocky Mountaineer has its very own station. It was easy to navigate and fast to collect luggage and to be on our way into Downtown Vancouver to spend a day before ( hopefully ) boarding our shop bound to Alaska.

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Meeting Alaska

With snow-capped mountains outstretched she welcomes us. The sky is soft azure without even a whisp of a cloud. A single star twinkles up high. The scene is silent, except for the soft purr of the ship’s engines. The ship is gliding so slowly it barely makes a wake as we greet her.

The sun is yet to get out of bed. It will be 30 minutes before she properly wakes. But, she is starting to stretch. She slowly brings out her scarves of red hues, waving them softly to us.

My phone cannot do justice to the colours but my mind enjoyed them.

This is my first morning in Alaska. It’s a special meeting, one I have been waiting for for a long time. This image will be mine forever.

A reward for being an early riser.

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The Rocky Mountaineer or… train whistle blowing

The system of the Rocky Mountaineer is a well oiled machine. You can tell this isn’t a new activity.

People line up awaiting their turn to drop off their bags at the hotel starting point. The faces are a mixture of deadpan, excited, anxious, those lacking coffee and those jumping around from lack of sleep and too much early coffee.

From there we were herded on to waiting buses. The buses’ bellies are filled with suitcases…extra large, floral, tiny, duffels and a few too many turquoises just like mine. The buses take us first to a baggage drop at a nearby huge car park. Here the buses are emptied of bags and sorted by Kamloops hotels ( their destination). They don’t travel on the train. They go via truck. Then it’s off to the train station for us.

We travelled ‘Silver Leaf’, akin to premium economy plane seats. ‘Gold Leaf’ is the business class equivalent ( but it comes with stairs and sharing eating tables with others-not for me). People set out to find their carriage. The numbers are jumbled to add to the confusion- oops, ‘adventure’. Some dawdled like me, others a speedy step, some hobbled with walking stick sticks. “All aboard” called the carriage host. We piled onboard obediently, located our seat, to be ours for the 2 day journey.

With a lurch and a shudder and horn blown loud and proud the trip began. It had the familiarity of a school camp to me. Some with loud voices letting everyone know their were there. Some quietly chatting to to a partner or friend. Some staring out the windows. Some even waving goodbye to those there to see them off. A staff member strolled the aisle, re-counting the heads.

The scenery was the initial draw card . As we left Banff mist shrouded the majestic mountains. One might say they were farewell tears-I like to think so.

We traced the Bow River in all its colourful beauty. The white boulders … mixed with those of greyish tones give the water its turquoise hue.

Breakfast arrived, momentarily distracting from the scenery outside the window. Laid out on white cloths with silver cutlery, it too is special. Tasty morsels of fresh fruit along with a croissant began the feast. My choice for mains was scrambled eggs with salmon. A delicious plate it was. Coffee complimented it.There were an assortment of juices for those desiring it as well.

The scenery continued to be of tall trees, gigantic mountains, turquoise rivers and interesting bridges. Someone shouted, ‘Bear to the right!’ People for a moment forgot politeness clambering and pushing and grappling for a prime window spot. I’m not convinced it was a bear. I think it was a blackened log.

Snacks of chocolates, nuts, savoury crackers and trail mix and an array of drinks are offered…hot,cold,alcoholic, soft drink and juices. I sampled my first Caesar cocktail and enjoyed the flavours.

Lunch is also provided- as delicious as breakfast. The ribs melted in my mouth and the parsnip and potato mash teased my tastebuds. No ketchup was offered and (a first for me) I didn’t need it. Dessert was a tangy lemon tart with a sweet berry compote.

More drinks and snacks were offered at regular intervals- the hungry/thirsty could collect extras at their desire.

The journey took us late into the night. The scenery changed slightly. The mountains lost some height, but the rivers still enticed with their colour and fast moving rapids. Eagles zoomed overhead as if taking the train on in a challenge. Lights started to twinkle in streets,and in homesteads and along roads as the train snaked on.

Dinner was included, though this is not part of the regular package. Our due arrival time at the hotel was to be 2.5 hours late at Kamloops our bed for the night. The town options for food for 800 people at 9 pm would be challenging. So they whipped up butter chicken and rice.

Arriving at Kamloops buses took us to our hotels. Entering our room our luggage was all there awaiting us, almost magically. You know how many people are losing luggage when travelling? Well we didn’t lose anything but did end up with an extra suitcase in our room.

Tomorrow starts with a 7:10am bus back to the station. 💤💤💤

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Exploring Lake Louise…or Lake Louise through my senses

The photo is framed with trees layered to reach the sky. The turquoise lake ripples silently, except for the occasional splash or drip from the paddle of a red canoe cutting through the water.

Gravel crunches under the feet of travellers who have made this pilgrimage. Occasionally the rhythm of the crunch is broken by a brief stumble but with a quick pick up the rhythm commences again. Bells rattle from ankles and walking poles and dog collars and bags, a message to the bears of humans approaching. I am yet to spy one of these magnificent creatures.

The scene begins to lose crispness as smoke wafts through. The stark white of the glacier watching over us becomes a muted grey. The smell of weak pine wood assaults the nose.

Chipmunks gather and scramble over the rocky edges of the lake. They perform like a busker, then pose for the cameras, hopeful for a tasty morsel. The tourists obey the “Do not feed the wildlife” signs though. Yet still the chipmunks perform, ever hopeful.

Voices break the serenity. They share their thoughts, amazement, and gossip. They speak to strangers, loved ones, new friends. They have their stories to share like these gigantic rugged mountains watching over us.

My tummy rumbles without food for none is available to purchase here. I munch on a cookie I’d bought the day before, but hadn’t eaten. The crisp crunch of an apple nearby reminds me how hungry I am. I can smell the sweet juice from where I sit. I watch in envy, the stranger eating it.

Time for a selfie or two.


Exploring Calgary…or wearing my shoe soles away.

Have feet will travel some say but I’m a motorised or rail type traveller …usually. But recently this hasn’t been the case.

Lucky for me Calgary downtown is a ‘flat as a pancake’ walking area. With so much to see I didn’t whinge until I was on the last block back to our hotel ( how out of character…not). There was nothing to see there.

We crossed the Peace Bridge but it’s not too peaceful at the moment. Vandals have been destroying it with rocks and paint. I took my photos between the grid fence panels put up to replace the removed damaged glass panels.

Our walk took us along Bow River in Prince’s Island Park. I was singing “The first thing you know I’ll be back at Bow River again” ( small word change haha). I will be back at Bow River in a few days time when I arrive in Banff.

The park was a delight of bird calls, chirping squirrels, rushing water rapids, and plants gently rustling in the wind. I loved the varying soft gravel sound as people strolled and ran the paths.

There was colour everywhere in the flower beds – bright colour, subtle colour – pinks, reds, yellows, oranges, purples, greens. Some geraniums like my red one were planted around.

I got excited when walking I saw two squirrels in amongst the trees. Unlike my first encounter with a squirrel around 35 years ago in the USA, this time I knew they weren’t baby squirrels because they were small. I didn’t need to embarrass myself this time with squeals of, “Look at the baby squirrels”. Turns out there weren’t just two. They were everywhere. They danced and played, chasing each other, climbing trees and eating berries. Most were black but I saw 2 grey/brown ones. Apparently they are all Eastern Greys but some have black fur the opposite of albinos. They reminded me of Blacky my cat.

Although we had a good breakfast at the hotel, the waft of coffee drew me to a cafe along the way. I tried the Pumpkin Spice Cafe Latte. It tasted so good I googled a recipe (making good use of the free wifi) as I sipped it. I will be making this when I get home! I had a strawberry and coconut scone with it. Scones are in every bakery. They are even pronounced to rhyme with con, like I say it. They are called biscuits in Tim Horton’s though.

Our walk took us past statues and parks. We saw one called the Family of man. They stand 6.5 metres high. You can read more about them here if you are interested. We used a few of the Plus 15 pedestrian walkways that connect buildings throughout the downtown core. They are above ground and heated- stark contrast to the chilled winds we had on the streets

We caught the local free light rail for a change of pace. We hopped on and off a few places.

At one stop we hopped off to get some lunch at an A & W ( a burger chain). We like chains so thought we’d try it. We saw ( and heard) 3 police attempting to move on two hookers. We walked past nonchalantly ( after I had sticky beaked pretending to consult my map).

At the burger store while we’re were ordering I heard the staff call security about a person who was sleeping in a corner of the store. They tried to move him but he stayed asleep so they put bread crates up and closed that bit of the restaurant. Next thing as we sit eating our burgers and all looks calm, a patron approaches the counter screaming abuse about his order being wrong. He had extra cheese and he had asked for no cheese. I couldn’t understand anyone complaining about getting extra cheese. He went on and on sweating loudly about the order and when they were trying to replace it he refused saying he would eat it anyway even though he was allergic to cheese. Of course his dad was, “ the top lawyer of all lawyers in Canada and the store would be hearing from him.”( just like we were hearing from him). When the store manager said they were on the phone to the police he said he would stay and show them the extra cheese😀. He left but not before throwing his drink at the counter. Luckily he had only ordered a kids meal so the drink was only as big as our medium drinks. Remember everything is larger here.

He returned and apologised that he shouldn’t have said that. Sure right he shouldn’t!

He walked quietly back to the table, collected his kids burger with extra cheese and left again- with a tirade of abuse. Dinner and a show !

No complaints about my burger- look at all that iceberg lettuce! 🤪

We finished our walk at Devonian Gardens, an indoor botanical garden in a shopping centre.


West Coast bound… or Goats, mountains, tall trees and lakes.

Driving across to Ucluelet and Tofino our first stop was to see goats on a roof. Yes – goats grazing on a grassy roof. They are in the Country Markets of Coombs. You really must take a look at this place using this link! I am not a shopper but was in awe of what was offered here ( more than goats). No way could you leave here without finding the obscure thing you needed ( or decided you needed).

We ate our breakfast with views of the goats ( occasionally a less than good for eating view 😂) Tried a Nanaimo Bar and enjoyed is version as much as the ice cream.

The road trip then took as past HUGE mountains , some with snow caps. The lakes were a beautiful blue green hue and not as cold as I thought they’d be. Yes, I tested with my feet.

We passed rivers with deep swimming holes and rapids. Brian was more adventurous clambering down rocks to reach the rapids. Someone had to stay up the top to document it on the camera 🙂

At Port Alberni we strolled the waterfront and funnily enough Brian found yet another ice cream and lolly store.

The mountains were majestic as we drove across the island. Not a bear or elk or cougar was seen. And I tell you I was looking! 😂

Tofino beaches had a mist rolling in by the time we arrived. The sand was hard packed. People rode bikes on the sand! Beach combing was interesting. Pity I can’t bring anything home.

Ucluelet was our base for the night. Dinner was at Howlers, a restaurant that had food as well as a bowling lane and pool tables.

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On the road to Nanaimo … Towers, totems and murals.

Leaving Victoria in a rental car , we headed off on the wrong ( well right) side of the road. As a pedestrian I struggled with which way to check traffic . As a passenger I’m no better. Luckily Brian has the road sense, since he is driving.

Our first destination was Malahat Skywalk. You can read about it here if you like.

Entry to the walk

The walk was an easy spiral walk. It lures you into a false sense of security until you face someone stopped in front of you. You have to go around them on the barrier side – and you accidentally ( on purpose thinking it will be fine) look down.🫣 I had to consciously look out not down.

Big chairs with a view. My first experience looking down. At this height it was ok… but the walk kept going higher and higher.
From the top
The slide
The real deal 😂

As we walked back along the path to the exit my eyes were constantly watching in the hope of seeing a beer or elk . The signs said they could be there. I was excited but saw none. All I saw was a wasp as it stung me 3 times on my hand as I fought gallantly to shoo it away. As you can imagine, I did a good display for others around us.

Then we took off to Duncan, the city of totems. We tried to decipher the parking rules and decided we thought we were parking legally. Guess we’ll know the result if any parking fines turn up for us. We visited the museum to learn about the area. Of course I read everything Kath Day-Knight style, while Brian read like we had no more places to visit. We were on a schedule I had predetermined. How was I to know the museum would have so much to read.

After the museum we filled ourselves with essential food ( bagels ) and hit the totem trail before a rushed departure to Charmainus- the city of murals.

Chemainus not only had murals it had a fabulous ice cream shop where I tried Nanaimo Bar ice cream. Nanaimo Bar are a chocolate slice base , custard filling and a thick hard chocolate icing ( similar to a caramel slice). The ice cream – if presented on a show like MKR would be called a deconstructed frozen Nanaimo Bar.

The gardens at Waterwheel park were in colourful blooms.

It was as time to complete our journey to Nanaimo. I am enrolling in lessons so I can pronounce this correctly. 🤣

Nanaimo was not lacking in the BIG size competition. The pizza for one sure filled the plate. 😂 No complaints here.

I’m really starting the test the stretch ability of my elastic waists 😂


Eating your way to Vancouver … or how to have mask free time.

From the moment I boarded Flight 036 Air Canada I realised that not only did I have extra leg room in my business class seat but I also had a 14 hour eat-feast. And, I was up for it! Never been more thrilled that I’d chosen my floral dress to wear on the flight. I’d chosen it because I thought it looked pretty with a business chic elegance. But, it turned out it had a hidden extra… an elastic waist!

For 14 hours I played the role of Augustus Gloop, the greedy, gluttonous boy from Willy Wonka. Imagine, if you will indulge me, the tune of Fantasia in your mind. Now keep that playing while you read. I think the tune is perfect.

Before I knew it, my cabin crew member, Sandy, had whisked my tray table from where it was hiding and slipped a white mini table cloth on it. Remember, I always fly economy. I consider it a good flight if the tray comes down and food is supplied.

The starters were almonds washed down with my favourite drink of Coke.

More food appeared less than 40 minutes later. First tuna tatami, and a green salad with a balsamic and olive oil dressing. This came in its own little twist top bottle so the dressing could be just where you wanted it, it in the exact quantity you desired. This is just how I like it. A sour dough roll with butter accompanied the starter.

The plate was whisked away and replaced with salmon with a barley risotto, spinach and zucchini. Delicious!

Dessert for me was a cheese platter.

A little after dinner I had a Perrier…

Then an apple juice…

A Kit Kat…

Then tomato juice with chips…

Then a dark chocolate…

Then a Coke…

Then some chips…

Then a Perrier…

Then a coffee with two biscoffs…

Then a Perrier…

Then a bottle of still water ( important to keep hydrated)…

Then breakfast!!

Actually I sound like the very hungry caterpillar 😉


Sunset Dinner and Show Cruise – Robinson Crusoe Island, Fiji

After a lazy day poolside, following a huge ( as always) buffet breakfast, we dressed up for a 4:15pm pick up for a sunset dinner cruise and show. The show was to be held on a small nearby island – obviously Robinson Crusoe Island.

The brochure promised us –
• 30 minute Jungle Cruise to the island

• Welcome Kava Ceremony

• Fijian “Lovo” (earth oven) Buffet

• Fire Walking Demonstration

• South Pacific Performance featuring Fire & Knife dancers

• Island bonfire and string band serenaders

and I must say it delivered!!

The bus arrived on time and after about a 45 minute bus trip we arrived at the Robinson Crusoe Island Ferry Jetty , with a few other mini buses and a coach.

We swapped our ticket vouchers for boarding passes and watched the first boat start its trip down the river. Our boat filled quickly. We were assured there was no deadly wildlife in the river, given instructions on the use of life jackets, then with a loud ‘BULA’ off we sped.

Our trip took us through the mangrove lined Tuva River. At the mouth of the river the sunset painted a glorious picture of orange glow. Small boats,the other ferry and palm trees cast silhouettes against the strong glow.

Docked on the island we were met by a serenade and we were led to the meeting area.

First we were told the story of chiefs and kava ceremonies. We watched a ceremony then all were invited to partake in Kava.

A bonfire on the beach followed. Songs were sung as hungry tummies awaited the final cooking stage of the Lovo. We soon watched the foods removed from their rock under earth oven.While the rocks were still sizzle hot we witnessed some Fijians walk on them. This must take a lot of mind psyching.

Dinner was served- a delicious menu of tender beef, chicken and an assortment of vegetables. With full plates on our tables ( and soon very full tummies) the performers serenaded us- melodic and peaceful.

The end of dinner signalled the start of the show- I was captivated from the beginning to the end. We watched as women and men performed traditional dances with a variety of costume changes. The knife dance was impressive but the fire twirling was what thrilled me the most- I have long been intrigued by watching the flicker of its dance. The finale is on the beach and without ruining it ,let’s say it was totally riveting and a spectacular visual.

To the strains of Isa Lei – The Fijian Farewell Song, our dinner show ended and we headed back to our buses via another trip in the island ferry.

It was a little unnerving wondering how the trip would be, aware we had seen no navigational poles but had seen tree stumps exposed in the rivers while on the daylight leg. The light turned out to be from someone sitting up on the roof with a large torchlight beam. A little concerning at first, but YOLO. The trip with the sparkling star sky canvas and the roaming floodlight beam added to the adventure.

Would thoroughly recommend this to Fijian visitors. It was an amazing evening! Money well spent 😀