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

 

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A Weekend in Avalon

Sunset in Avalon

Last night as the sunset, we said “see you later” to Avalon, New Jersey and headed back to NYC for three days of work.

It is hard to describe the joy we experienced this weekend as 11 people crammed into a small, bay facing shore house in Avalon for 48-hours. You know those weekends that you just want to enjoy as long as possible, hoping that it won’t come to an end? That was this weekend.   Even though the air conditioning didn’t exactly work and there was only one bathroom, the laughter was constant, the dock served as a second living room and a jump into the ocean waves or off the dock was the perfect way to cool down. In fact, I don’t think any of us would change a thing about the weekend. It was so wonderful to create new memories with the group. Here is a hilarious picture from 1996 that the cousins (Bo, Meg, Sarah and Katie) recreated last night before we drove back to NYC.

cousins 1996

cousins 2016

Many shore rentals, including ours, are Saturday to Saturday, which means that we didn’t leave for the shore until bright and early Saturday morning. We left Brooklyn at 6 AM with hopes of being in Avalon by 9, allowing us to enjoy a full beach day. Our plan worked perfectly and we were exploring the area on two wheels, with iced coffee in hand, by 9:30.

Bike riding through Avalon

Since the rest of the group wouldn’t arrive until Saturday afternoon, we spent Saturday squeezing in a few activities. Bo and I took a surfing lesson together before meeting Russell and Meg at Primo Hoagies for huge, delicious hoagies. Their special, fresh bread was delicious and exactly the way I like it – crispy on the outside and chewy inside.

Surfing in Avalon

Primo Hoagie

Avalon Dunes

After lunch we spent the afternoon relaxing on the beach, body surfing through the waves and taking an afternoon beach nap before hopping on our bikes in search of a cool treat. Opened in 1957, Avalon Freeze was Meg and Bo’s favorite dessert spot growing up and I now understand the obsession.  This chocolate chip cookie cone was filled with soft vanilla ice cream then dipped in rainbow jimmies (sprinkles) and peanut butter crunchies.

Avalon freeze

We spent the rest of Saturday catching up with everyone, jumping off the dock and enjoying a late dinner. Bo’s mom brought a batch of her famous sauce and paired it with fresh shrimp, sausage, pasta, garlic bread and italian salads for our first meal together. After the day of fresh air and a dockside beers, our group was fast asleep by 10pm.

Bo and I kicked off Sunday with a long run which allowed him to give me a tour of Avalon and Stone Harbor.  Unfortunately the sightseeing combined with an uneven sidewalk resulted in a pretty nasty spill across the sidewalk and pebbles during mile 2. It looked worse than it felt and we were able to continue through our run until reaching our finish line – the beach!

Falling when running

Avalon long run

After our run, I spent the rest of the day relaxing on the dock. When I wasn’t reading, I was hanging doing cannon balls off the dock, stand up paddle boarding and laughing as we used tubes and boogie boards as makeshift floats. We headed back inside every hour to enjoy a brief break from the sun and follow the British Open golf tournament which ended up being far more exciting than anyone imagined!

Avalon dock picture

Late in the afternoon we took one last bicycle tour of the island together, heading to Stone Harbor to explore and visit some favorite spots. We played video games and skeet ball at the arcade, treated ourselves to local fudge, and explored the shops before riding back home for a final dinner with everyone and heading back to New York City.  Luckily, I only have to make it through three busy work days in Cincinnati before Bo and I get to head back to Avalon for a long weekend with his cousin and parents.

Avalon and Stone Harbor Recommendations: 

 

 

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Hiking Haystack Mountain

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When Vermont delivers sunshine, blue sky and beautiful 80 degree temperatures, there is nothing to do except lace up our hiking shoes and head out for an afternoon hike. Over the years we have done a few short hikes in the area but nothing like yesterday’s hike at Haystack Mountain.

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Haystack Mountain is the a 3,445 foot mountain located in Wilmington, Vermont just 30 minutes from my family’s home in Manchester. The hike to the summit is 2.5 miles and includes a portion on an old farm road followed by a steep climb through the dense forest.  Knowing that it was a warm day we carried two water bottles per person and two extra for Samantha, their Samoyed who accompanied us on the adventure.

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During the hour and a half hike towards the summit we crossed a few small streams and carved out logs.

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Staying on the trail was easy since there were trail markers every few hundred feet.

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The second half of the trail was far more technical than the first, requiring us to stop a few times and catch our breath as we scrambled up the rocks.  Luckily in this same section we were able to start seeing glimpses of the view waiting for us at the summit. As the trees grew thinner we could look out across the valley as well as be rewarded for our efforts with a slight breeze.

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An hour and a half after starting our hike we reached the summit and were rewarded with incredible sweeping 360 degree views of New York and Vermont.

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View from Haystack Mountain
We relaxed at the top for a few minutes before heading back down towards the car. By the time we reached the car we had covered 4.9 miles and were drenched in sweat.

 

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