Labor Day Weekend in Upstate New York

lake placid

I hope you guys had a wonderful, long Labor Day weekend. Am I the only one who feels like today has been a heck of a busy day and feels more like a Monday than a Tuesday? I’ve been going non-stop since the alarm went off at 6 AM! The good news is that there are only three more work days until the weekend!   I’m also very thankful that I spent the past three days relaxing and disconnecting. I disconnected from email and work 100% this weekend and having those days to recover have allowed me to focus and start the week strong.



Before this weekend, neither of us had spent time in upstate New York and we are now in love with the area. The region offers so many options, regardless your interest. Unlike Manchester, Vermont, where my family has a home, this area offers water sports – something Bo and I both enjoy. That combined with the adorable town, cool weather and hiking made it a great weekend getaway.  If you live in the area, I highly recommend you head to the Lake Placid area for a long weekend!

view from peak


lake placid olympics

Here are a few highlights from the weekend:

  • We hiked 9.8 miles and climbed the equivalent of 181 floors as we traversed the path to Porter Mountain. One of the Adirondack High Peaks, this hike was more challenging than we expected due to the rocky terrain but the views were well worth the effort.
  • Even though we didn’t take a formal tour, we had a blast touring the hockey rink at the Lake Placid Olympic Center and riding the winter sports simulator which gave us the feeling of six different Olympic sports including the luge!
  • We rented a boat and spent three hours tubing and wake boarding on Lake Placid. We dreamed of owning one of the picturesque lake house, enjoyed some tubing thrills and Bo spent over an hour trying to teach Liz and I to wake board. We each got up for seconds before failing miserably.  We were amazed by the crystal, clear lake water as well as the perfect 70 degree water temperature!
  • We watched three separate college football games – Georgia Tech, Georgia and Notre Dame. While it would have been wonderful for all three teams to win, at least our two alma maters won! In case you’re wondering, my Notre Dame allegiance stems from my childhood, as my dad was born and raised in South Bend, Indiana.
  • We spent hours around the fire playing games, reading, sipping either wine or coffee and just chatting. Since it was only four of us, we were able to relax and have none of the pressures that sometime accompany larger, group trips.

If you are interested in visiting the Lake Placid region, our friends recommended these local inns, many of which have specials for Fall foliage and Winter skiing.



10 Day Jasper and Banff Itinerary

ash bo lake louise

Everyone has asked me how we enjoyed our 10-day Canadian vacation and I immediately say that it was the best trip we’ve taken together. When you’ve been together for 13 years, that is a pretty strong statement. It is no exaggeration though as this area of the world was magical and every turn in the road and hike left us in awe.  I am going to do a thorough, detailed recap of our trip but I want to balance the number of travel posts I do with my regular content. Since there are a few readers who have emailed me requesting our itinerary in preparation for Labor Day and September vacations, here is a brief itinerary of our trip. As always, I am available to answer questions via email, comments or social media. There are a few things to keep in mind when reviewing our itinerary:

  • We did not book this trip until early June which meant that many of the smaller bed and breakfast or inns were fully booked and most of our hotels only had availability for one to two nights, hence the frequent change of location.
  • Since the smaller inns were booked, in some cases the Fairmont was the only option available which in the end, worked far better than expected. We were able to leverage Expedia and/or American Express points to reduce the cost and the level of service we experienced from their staff was incredible!
  • We enjoy active vacations.
  • We always allowed time when traveling between two towns for stops and explorations. If Google Maps predicted it would take two hours, we gave ourselves three hours because sometimes randoms stops at roadside waterfalls or streams ended up being the most fun part of the day.
  • We were very lucky with the weather as it only rained twice during the trip and the average morning temperature was 40 degrees and the afternoon high was around 70 degrees.
  • While I did reach out to a few of the tour groups we used in advance, we did not receive any compensation or discounts from companies. This is not a sponsored post.

Day 1 – Travel Day – We booked the Newark – Minneapolis – Calgary flight on Delta and were very pleased with the itinerary as it left mid-afternoon on Friday and landed in Calgary at 9:30pm. We stayed at the Fairmont Palliser in Calgary as it is a quick, 20-minute drive from the airport and we knew we’d be too exhausted to drive further. We chose this hotel on Expedia due to their inexpensive weekend rate as well as the opportunity to use Expedia points towards the cost.


Day 2 – After grabbing breakfast and coffee at Philosafy Coffee in Calgary, we spent the entire day driving from Calgary to Jasper, enjoying a few stops along the Icefields Parkway including a 2-hour hike.  We stayed at Fairmont Jasper Park Lodge and dined the first night at the Moose’s Nook Chophouse which was one of our favorite meals of the trip! Even if you don’t stay at the Jasper Park Lodge, come over to enjoy the sunset along the lake and dine there afterwards!

Day 3 –  We spent this day enjoying two hikes – Edge of the World Hike and Maligne CanyonAt Maligne Canyon we enjoyed exploring different trails and ended up hiking more than 7 miles by the time we rejoined the original trail. We stayed at Fairmont Jasper Park Lodge again that night and enjoyed s’mores along the lake while watching the sunset after a delicious, relaxed dinner on their terrace.

Day 4 – We enjoyed a sunrise walk and leisurely breakfast before checking out of our hotel and heading towards Canmore.  Along Icefields Parkway we stopped at the Athabasca Glacier where we spent three hours hiking the massive glacier. We booked the Ice Cubed tour in advance and highly recommend it! It is informative and far more enjoyable than merely experiencing the glacier from a large bus!  The tour is offered three times per day but this mid-day tour option worked well for us as it allowed us time to have a leisurely morning and still get to our Airbnb in Canmore early enough to relax and shower before our dinner at Crazyweed

Day 5 – Since the meteorologists were forecasting rain for the remainder of the week, we updated our itinerary to do our longest hike of the trip at Lake Louise, on the prettiest day. We picked up breakfast and a sandwich to go from The Summit Cafe before heading to Lake Louise to embark on a day of hiking.  We did the Tea House Challenge which combines two popular hikes – Six Glaciers and Big Beehive hikes to create one, 6 hour hike which included two tea houses, a lunch stop and scrambling rocks. It was an incredible hike which covered more than 14 miles.


Day 6 – We relaxed the next day, exhausted from the previous day’s hike. After checking out of our Airbnb we enjoyed breakfast in Banff at Wild Flour Cafe. Their frittata egg sandwich may be my new favorite breakfast sandwich, especially when paired with their large cappuccino. We leisurely explored the town of Banff and did some shopping at the Farmer’s Market which is in the middle of town every Wednesday. We headed towards are hotel, Fairmont Cheateau Lake Louise at 1pm in time for a late lunch along the lake.  After lunch we returned to the trail for a relaxed, 5k along the lake before spending an hour canoeing on the cerulean lake, as this was included in our room rate.  Based on the concierge’s recommendation, we headed down the road to Moraine Lake for our own little lakeside happy hour complete with wine, cheese and dried meats we picked up at store in Canmore. This is also when we had our bear sighting, which he predicted as he said the traffic is stopped at least once along that road for bears or other wildlife.

Day 7 – We woke up at 5:30 for the sunrise canoe trip we booked in advance of the trip. Unfortunately they didn’t allow cancellations for overcast weather, so we spent an hour laughing and talking on the water together even though the clouds made the experience far less picturesque than expected. By 9:30 we were at Mt. Norquay Ski Area, near Banff, for a 4-hour Via Ferrata adventure. Via Ferrata is an assisted climbing adventure which allows you to climb ladders, suspension bridges, and cliffs while seeing Banff from a whole different perspective. The entire experience was thrilling and safely put me outside of my comfort zone!  We checked into our next hotel, Fairmont Banff Springs before spending an afternoon at the spa since afternoon thunderstorms derailed our hike. Their spa, Willow Stream receives high accolades each year, including top spa in Canada, so this was the perfect place for us to rest and rejuvenate after a busy few days. If you don’t want to have a spa treatment but want to enjoy their mineral baths, pools, saunas and indoor and outdoor hot tubs you can pay an entrance fee to enjoy it for the entire day. We took advantage of their complimentary tennis lessons that evening, spending two hours going through drills and matches in the evening sunshine with five other guests.


Day 8 – We headed to the Kicking Horse River for a morning of white water rafting with Hydra RaftingThe 20 kilometer rafting trip was 2-hours and began calmly before taking us through lots of class IV rapids! We had a blast and really liked the group as well as the delicious burgers they served for lunch following the rafting trip. We returned to our hotel just in time to enjoy high tea overlooking the river and enjoying dinner at 1888 Chop House – one of our favorite meals of the trip.

Day 9 – We slept in quite late on our final day of vacation before enjoying a hike around Banff and the nearby waterfalls as well as one last leisurely breakfast. We headed back to Calgary and stayed at Hotel Le Germain where we snagged a room for less than $90 USD! Their concierge recommended a nearby sushi restaurant, Ki Modern, where we were able to eat outside and enjoy the Tragically Hip concert which was being broadcast at every nearby bar as well as on two shutdown streets. (Don’t know who Tragically Hip is? Neither did we until we read this Rolling Stone article.)

Day 10 – Travel Day  – I recommend booking an early flight as it minimizes the delay potentials and allows you to have some time at home on Sunday to prepare for the week.

Your turn: Any specific questions you have? Otherwise, the next post will be dedicated to what we packed and wore during the ten day trip! 


Canada Day 1 – Driving from Calgary to Jasper

Edge of the world hike jasper

Greetings from Canada! We are four days into our Canadian vacation and I’m already dreading Sunday’s flight back to New York City. Can’t we just stay on vacation forever? This has truly been the most incredible vacation thus far even though it is far different than anything we’ve done. After two years of “cultural city vacations” while living abroad, an active vacation is just what we wanted.

Friday we flew from New York City to Calgary by way of Salt Lake City. Even though last week Delta had lots of issues, our flights were luckily quite smooth. By 10pm we were pulling out of the airport in our rental car for the week, heading towards downtown. Since we knew we wouldn’t land until late, we decided to stay at the The Fairmont Palliser hotel in Calgary on Friday night versus driving to Jasper.  The hotel was recently updated and perfect for our quick stay.

Philosafy Cafe in Calgary

Saturday morning we woke up and grabbed coffee and breakfast at Philosafy, the perfect coffee shop for any coffee lover. They serve freshly pour over coffee, home baked breakfast treats and an abundance of other cold and warm coffee and tea drinks in a modern atmosphere.  We ordered our coffee to-go so we could begin the trek from Calgary to Jasper.

The drive from Calgary to Jasper, via the scenic Icefields Parkway, is supposed to take 4.5 hours but we made it a day long adventure, allowing time to stop and take in the sights as well as a hike to stretch our legs.  Once we entered the National Park area we stopped to buy a Canada National Park pass since each car that enters the national park must have one. From here, based on Anne’s post, we chose Bow Lake as our first destination and our hike for the day. This was a perfect option as it was a 2-hour hike that was a great introduction to hiking in the Rockies and we were able to buy and enjoy lunch from Num Ti Jah lodge before our hike.  The hike, which started at Num Ti Jah lodge, followed a path along the lake’s edge before transitioning into the rocky river delta and up towards the Wapta Icefield and Bow River Falls. The hike was four miles in total and provided picturesque views of the cerulean blue lake as well as the icy falls.

bow lake

view of the waterfalls

After the hike we continued our drive towards Jasper, stopping at Athabasca Falls and Sunwapta Falls for quick hikes to see the roaring water falls and enjoy the fresh air. It was so nice to enjoy the drive with no time limit or pressure so we could linger as we wished at any stop.

Athabasca Falls