??Journey or destination??

Exploring life experiences at home and beyond – Destination Happiness

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Sailing through glaciers or…Not every paradise is tropical

Over two days we have glided close to glaciers. The twin Sawyer Glaciers, North Sawyer and South Sawyer were first. They are located at the end of Tracy Arm. Next was a day in Glacier Park. In the park we saw many glaciers, including the John Hopkins Glacier where we spent about an hour, with the ship moving in a very slow circular pattern so all sides of the ship had an excellent view at some time.

The first trip was my favourite though. The weather was extra kind to us. We transferred from the ship to a catamaran basically in the middle of the ocean … well, where Stephens Passage meets the North Pacific Ocean. The morning was foggy and as the catamaran took off, the ship’s horn was all we had to connect us to it as it was shrouded more heavily in fog with each metre we sailed away. It felt like a promo for a eerie Netflix drama along the lines of ‘Lost’.

We were extremely lucky because within a short distance from the ship the sky cleared to a brilliant blue with a few shifty white fluffy clouds. Apparently recent trips had been cancelled into Tracy Arm due to poor weather conditions.

However the wind chill factor meant it was freezing and we were standing out on deck waiting for those first glimpses of ice.

As we travelled up the arm the magical visions began. We stopped to watch a humpback whale dance for us, spurting and tail flapping before it did a dive deep into the water only to resurface and repeat the show again.

Then in grand Disney style the parade of ice began. The performers were bergy bits (1-5 metres above the water) growlers ( about a metre above the water) and brash ice ( all other smaller ice chunks ). There was one performer in the line up that our marine specialist said looked to be an iceberg.

At North Sawyer Glacier I witnessed 3 calvings. There was an audible loud boom and the ice cracked off the edge of the glacier a splash as it toppled into the water. Of course I let out the same enthusiastic shout of glee as I do when watching fireworks.

By the next glacier I couldn’t feel my hands so much so that I was eating chips and had to look to see I had chips in my fingers. As we approached the glacier and Brian pointed to the glacier a quote from Griswald’s Christmas Vacation came to mind. “She’ll see it later honey, her eyes are frozen shut.”-Ellen

I saw several more calvings at this glacier each as exciting as the next. . Apparently it was a good show day! Sometimes nothing happens.

With blue skies still above we sailed to Juneau where the ship now awaited us.

Before returning to the ship we rode the Goldbelt tram for views over the city. The cloud has followed the ship so the views were a bit misty. It was a very sharp incline and descent but this has been a YOLO trip for me, so I enjoyed it for what it was- a fearful journey up a mountain.

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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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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.


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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Arriving in Vancouver … or A brisk walk around the airport.

After eating breakfast of muesli, an egg and bacon croustade with sauté mushrooms and toasted cherry tomatoes and a croissant, the descent to Vancouver began.

I watched as we flew over Vancouver Island ( our soon to be destination for the next 10 days). Touch down was smooth and before I knew it the rest of the plane was awaiting our departure.

Then I realised I had a km or so to walk to customs. Not bad I hear you think. However, I had my suitcase to roll, one of Brian’s backpacks pretending to be mine ( that man does not understand the concept of light travel – he also had a very large suitcase that just sneaks in at the maximum size allowed) and a cross body handbag filled with my most essential things and an overcoat. I may or may not have been whinging but Brian decided maybe he could manage the extra backpack himself).

Customs was fast and it wasn’t long until we were in the taxi bound got the ferry terminal. Of course Brian checked an email he heard arrive- only to find out he had won the grand prize of a random Covid check. We continued on our way to the terminal as it advised he had until 11:59 pm the next day to do the test. We were headed for Victoria the capital city of BC. How hard could it be we thought? It’s compulsory to do and it is a free test. Well $150 for global roaming phone call to organise the test and about 4 hours of run around for Brian ( I napped off my jet lag as it was over 24 hours since I’d slept) it was done and dusted and we were free to go about our holiday. The test results take up to 4 days they said.

So we took off to explore Victoria.


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 😉

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Business Class travel or… What’s behind that curtain to the left?

I’m an economy class girl when flying. Always have been. I figure I’d rather spend money when I land than money in the air. This is probably too because, excluding a European adventure and a couple of USA trips my flights have been within Australia or to a few neighbouring island countries. I cope (not graciously, but I cope) with my nose on the seat in front. That’s not because I am in the brace position, nor am I a relative of Pinocchio. It’s because I’m stingy!

I’ve seen the fun family and friends have had in the pointy end of the plane. I even have pyjamas from those people who kindly share their stash. I am in awe of these people.

I decided to splurge for our flight to Canada. The trip was planned to celebrate my retirement snd 60th birthday. I felt I was deserving of this treat and it was as my savings I was using.

So, what was behind the curtain?

A time of luxury, indulgence and food…so much food, and drinks to wash them down.

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Covid travel from the arm chair – arrival in Calgary

We would have arrived around noon 24th August after connecting with a domestic Air Canada flight from Vancouver. Hopefully the 1 hour 55 min time between flights would have been sufficient.

On arrival in Calgary we would have travelled to our hotel by cab.

As I try to make most use of my time, I rely heavily on planning. It’s not my style to leave things to chance.

I had mapped out the map for a 3 km walk exploring some of Calgary. The hope was to beat the jet lag by keeping busy. An early night would (should) see us ready to live on Canadian time.

A late lunch was planned at Alforno Bakery and Cafe, then at the end of our scenic route an early dinner. No restaurant was chosen as it would depend on how tired we were and if we were still walking or cabbing it.

Monday 24th would then be finished.

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Covid travel from the arm chair – flight to Calgary

Today I would have been up early to watch the airport wake up. I’d watch the early flights take off as I packed up ready to head to the airport by 7 am for the first leg of my flight- Sydney to Vancouver. At Vancouver I would take my 2nd leg, a flight to Calgary. I say 7 am as 3 hours before my flight but I’d more than likely be racing that 150 metre distance around 6:15ish – not one to be late to the airport, you never know what interruption might happen to make that 2 minute walk longer.

No matter which airline I travel with ( though I have only used about 5 or 6 different airlines) the check in counter is always far from where I enter the terminal. I drag my case, dodging people, taking a moment to marvel at a suitcase being plastic wrapped, admiring some of the suitcases, oh and of course a million stops to check my passport, phone and wallet are still in my handbag. I’m not exactly sure where I think they will go as I clasp that bag tight and am always very alert to what’s happening around me.

On arrival at check in I’ll be a little less stressed once my passport is checked, tickets are printed and my suitcase is taken.

Now it’s a head through security. My liquids ( in their purpose bought resealable plastic bag) will be placed in the little blue tray along with my 5 ventolin puffers ( never be too sure if you have enough – nor if they should stay in the handbag or not). My bag will be placed in the blue tray. I’ll be watching that tray as closely as I can.

Based on my own statistics I will then be chosen for a body scan. I always have ‘hot spots” requiring a pat down. Of course I’m hot, I’m on high anxiety in this part of my travel adventure.

Then as if it’s not enough to have a pat down, I’m usually chosen for the Explosive Trace Detection wand.

Next I recheck I still have my passport, wallet, phone and now tickets still in my hand bag then head to customs and border control. I’m better at feeding my passport into the machine now. Once I pass through that gate I check the walk time the flight board advises for my gate.

By now I need food and while I’m hangry I also want to eat as close as possible to my gate. Don’t want any last minute dashes to make the plane. Only once has this part of my plan gone horribly wrong when there was a last minute gate change for a flight. Of course it was from one end to the other. I had to race off dodging those passengers who enjoy window shopping and chatting in little groups. Argghhh!!!

Then I sit at the gate ( usually with a long wait cause I start so early for check in).

Today’s flight was to be at 10am. I had an extra leg room seat on the exit. The flight price was so cheap as I bought it on an Air Canada ‘Australia Day Sale’. The disappointing bit is the voucher we now have will barely cover one of us to travel- unless of cause another Australia Day Sale happens next year! Fingers crossed 🙂

When boarding is announced I finally get really excited. I sit in my seat with seatbelt tightened as I watch the plane fill up. I play a game bringing the unknown passengers to life in my mind – why they are travelling, where they are headed, did they book on the sale like me, who have they left behind, who’s excited to see them at the end of the flight?

As the plane taxis out of the bay I’m the one staring out the window…even if I’m not in the window seat. 😊

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