snow

All posts tagged snow

~Wednesday~
Pretty sure it stopped snowing once we went to sleep, as there wasn’t much more when we woke up. But that’s OK, at least we had some freshies!  We were up early and on the first chairs up, and had a pretty good day. Visibility came and went, and it occasionally snowed a bit. Again, we met Erin and Chris for some afternoon boarding.

Alastair and the poor vis

Alastair and the poor vis

Selfie.. I'm up a mountain, really...

Selfie.. I’m up a mountain, really…

Tbar ><

Welcome to the pommer!   The sacrificial lift to goodness knows where.

The igluuu

The igluuu

Cliffs

Cliffs

Front left, Erin, Becca, Chris. Back: Dale, Henri, Alastiar

Erin, Dale, Henri, Becca, Alastair, Chris

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Lots of sitting around

Board lineup

Board lineup

Lovely view from our place

Lovely view from our place

Thursday
No freshies, but we got going early again. There was a lot of low cloud around, just hanging out in the valleys, and generally being annoying. Couldn’t see the ground really, it made boarding not as fun, so we headed to a little bar near one of the lifts, for vin chaud, and waited for it to clear a bit. It eventually kind of did, and we did some lovely runs down some powder that hadn’t been ruined yet.

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Mountains

Not much vis

Not much vis

Just relaxin...

Just relaxin…

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Clouds coming in

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To that way

Met Erin and Chris on top of the main lift from Pas, where we stopped for lunch at the lookout cafe. Fabulous food, I had a spinach and goats cheese lasagne, and tarte tatin, and it was so yum. The clouds came and went, and we would get occasional glimpses of the surrounding craggy mountain peaks. The sun was out for the afternoon, which was lovely, and we did some runs down the valley.

The camebert cafe, on top of the mountain

The camebert cafe, on top of the mountain

Spinach and goats cheese lasagne, so good

Spinach and goats cheese lasagne, so good

Up a mountain! Erin and Chris

Up a mountain! Erin and Chris

Ended the day with some lovely clear speed runs down one of the black runs, very fun.
Headed down at 5pm, another did a last few runs under the lights. It was cloudy and snowing a bit, and weird to be still boarding as it gets dark…Boarding from light to light, with the snow inbetween, pretty invisible.   The lifts usually close at 4pm-5pm, so that you’re well off the mountains before it gets dark.

Tunnels

Tunnels

A playground

A playground

Snow dog

Snow dog

Fllags

Flags

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Chris and Erin try the Slalom

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I love a skifield with trees

End of the trip

End of the trip

We ended our boarding week, and headed back to change. Dinner was an interesting mix of all the food left over from our last few dinners, with plenty of vin chaud, cider.
Then it was sleepies.
Woke up the next morning to it snowing, big fat fluffy flakes, my favourite kind. Disappointing, as we were simply cleaning and leaving.

Handing back the key, we quickly trotted out the edge of town, and crossed a little bridge…into France!   The border was right there, along the streambed, so we enjoyed crossing over that a couple of times, in the snow.  It was so lovely and snowey.

 

A bridge between France and Andorra

A bridge between France and Andorra

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Alastair in the snow

Adorable snow puppy

Adorable snow puppy

Walked to the bus stop getting covered in snow, then the bus was half an hour late, possibly cause of the snow. Back to Toulouse.  Got kinda travel sick on teh ride, as it was a super windy mountain road, and the driver seemed to think he knew it very well, and was super speedy, despite the downhill, and the fact that it was snowing. Luckily I had an audio book, so could listen to that, while looking out the window.   As we got lower in altitude, the lovely snow turned to pelting rain, and it was grey and rainy all the way back to Toulouse.

Henri and Alastair

Henri and Alastair

Henri and meeeeee

Henri and meeeeee

Sunshine

Sunshine

VIews down the valley

VIews down the valley

Bye, Andorra!

Bye, Andorra!

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A tiny castle tower on a hill

A bit sad to be finished snowboarding, as it means we are finished for the year, it is different when we’re living in the UK to NZ.  NZ we used to go up every couple of weekends, with a South Island trip in there somewhere.   Here in the UK, we just take a week and do it all at once.  I will definitely miss it until next year.

This year, for our annual ski trip, we decided to go to Andorra.  Henrietta and Alastair had been there a few years ago, and were keen to take us. I hadn’t even heard of the place, before they told me about it. It is a tiny country.. well, technically it is the Principality of Andorra, though I’m not entirely sure if that differs, or how it differs from being a country. It is tiny, 468km*2, with a population of 85,000 people.  It is located in the Pyrenees mountains, between France and Spain.  I’m pretty sure it’s mostly just mountains.  It is a tax haven, so some things, that are taxed heavily in other countries, are cheaper there.  The main language is Catalan, but you also hear French and Spanish, and sometimes Portugese, spoken.  The touristy centers will speak English.

~Saturday~
Had to get up super early, to get to the airport in time. The flight was uneventful, and landed easily in Toulouse. Had to hang our in the airport for a couple of hours, while we waited for our shuttle, but we amused ourselves by eating bread, cheese and tarts, the usual fare in France.
Shuttle took us south towards Andorra, and I slept most of the trip, but woke as we were heading up into the mountains, and it was so lovely to see mountains! And snow! And all the cute little French towns that were tucked into valleys and on ridges.

Silly little girraffe in the airport

Silly little girraffe in the airport

little town

little town

village

Village

The cliffs had lots of caves in them

The cliffs had lots of caves in them

Dramatic cliffs

Dramatic cliffs

A carousel

A carousel

houses

Cute houses, the villages seemed to be made of pretty stone buildings

The last part of the drive was a long climb into Andorra, via a very thin, silly, windy, curvy road.  The bus driver seemed familiar with it, and was by no means slow.  I greatly wished I had brought my travel sick tablets.     Pas de la Casa is just past the French border, and is very cute, but surprisingly busy. Lots of apartments, shops, supermarkets and eating places. The town was bare of snow, but it looked like there was a decent amount on the field. We found our apartment, which had amazing views of the town and mountains, and we could even see the start of the chairlift! So close.

Mountains!

Mountains!

We made it across the border between France and Andorra

We made it across the border between France and Andorra

Dinner at a little restaurant, where Henri and I had raclette, yum! We had sangria to drink. Pas was an interesting mix of French and Spanish, and many of the restaurants you would have national dishes from both of the surrounding countries. Also seemed to be a lot of pizzas.

All the shops had people standing outside, who would actively talk to you, and encourage you to come in.  In a nice way though, I’ve seen places where they do this, and it mostly just makes you want to avoid them.  But this didn’t seem too bad, and the people were pretty friendly.

We were staying in studio apartments, that had a couch that turned into a bed, a table, dresser, small kitchen, and a bathroom.  Small, but everything you need, and pretty cheap.   We quickly settled in to sleep, as it had been a long day.

The view from our room. Between the buildings down there, is where the chairlift starts.

The view from our room. Between the buildings down there, is where the chairlift starts.

~Sunday~
I woke a bit groggy – mornings are not one of my strengths – and had a quick look out the window… To 10cm of fresh snow!! That woke me up pretty quick, and I excitedly made everyone look. It took a while to get going though, as it had been a year since we last boarded, and there is a fair amount of prep, with making sure you have food, water, the right amount of layers, and all the gear for the day. Also, renting the right bits, and buying lift passes.

Eeeeeeee SNOW

Eeeeeeee SNOW

The snow was fantastic. We found heaps of powder, trees, freshies, and lots to keep us entertained. We headed off across the valleys to El Tarter for lunch, riding each  lift up the next ridge, then boarding down the valley to the next lift. It was a fun day.

River in El Tarter

River in El Tarter

River in El Tarter

River in El Tarter

Chairlift

Chairlift up from El Tarter

yay snowing

yay snowing

We went searching the supermarkets for food for dinner.  So many of the supermarkets were little, but half of the shop was dedicated to alcohol.  Cause of the tax haven thing, it was all so cheap.  Dale bought a large bottle of melon schnapps, for 5€.  Also found bottles of nice port for super cheap.
Henri made us delishuz butter sauce pasta for dinner.
Eric and Chris arrived after 10pm on the shuttle, Dale had sorted their room key, and they just picked it up from us, and we all went to sleep.

~Monday~ was a bluebird day. They are the best,especially if you have fresh snow.  Bright sun, and everything is lovely and warm.
Had lunch down the bottom, with Erin and Chris, who were recovering from their first lesson, and first day of boarding, ever.

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One of the villages

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Another cute valley

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Pretty peaks

zoom around the people

zoom around the people

Sunshine!

Sunshine and smiles!  Alastair, Henri, Dale, myself

Henri ready to go

Henri ready to go

Had après-ski (this is the after skiing event, usually consisting of snacks and alcohol) at the cafe at the top of Pas de la casa, with vin chaud (hot, spiced wine), and the best waffles ever.   It was beautiful, with mountains and sunshine everywhere.

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The best afternoon stop view.

Looking down to Pas de la Casa

Looking down to Pas de la Casa

Dinner was spag bol with fresh pasta. Went to bed, all very tired.
The first night you’re usually exhausted, the second night, still pretty darn tired, as you used all the sore muscles again.

To talk about apres ski, usually its a drink and relax after a hard day on the slopes, but for a lot of people, especially in Andorra, it seemed to be an event that started once the lifts closed, and sometimes went till the early hours of the morning… we would hear people yelling in the streets at all hours of the night, and occasionally witness people getting home at 10 or 11pm, still in their ski boots, and looking a little unsteady.  I’m all for a relaxing drink after, but we like to then get a good nights sleep, so we can make the most of the next day.  Also, from my experience, if you’ve put in a decent day on the mountain, you’re too damn tired to drink and party every night.

 

~Tuesday~
Slow start this morning. the weather forecast was for 10 cm snow overnight, so we got up early with the hopes of new snow, but when we got up, the streets were bare :( there was no new snow, so we hopped back into bed for a bit. It took us ages to get going, with picking up skis, boards, and fixing bits and pieces. I ended up renting a board for the day. I wasn’t happy at first, as the board seemed choppy and unresponsive, but I think it was just stiffer than my actual board, and once I started being more aggressive with it, it was quite a good board, very stable and solid on the rough bits. Very fun.
Someone took a good tumble, and we ended up having an early morning tea at the chocolate shop, where the hot chocolates were so thick that I think they were mostly just chocolate. Delishuz!! They served them with churros, and also served crepes, all of which we partook in.
After that, we headed out and over the hills, towards Funicamp, but the weather turned out to be nasty as, the clouds all came over and the visibility turned out to be pretty much nothing, and the wind picked up. It was quite cold.

Snapped pole!

Snapped pole!

It was a bit surreal, some of the times you would be boarding along, with people all around you, but because of the wind blowing all the snow everywhere, and the dull light, you couldn’t actually see the ground most of the time, and it felt a bit like you were all floating in the clouds. You were all moving around each other, and you were moving, but you couldn’t actually tell how fast you were going.
The wind picked up stupidly, so we headed back down to Pas de la Casa, and met up with Erin and Chris, and hung out with them on the little slopes. Even there the wind was blustery and would blow you around.

Erin is zoomy

Erin is zoomy

Yahhhh! Chris, Dale, Erin

Yahhhh! Chris, Dale, Erin

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Chris, Alastair, Erin

Chairlift buddies

Chairlift buddies

Chairlift buddies

Ninjas!

We finished the day with a speedy run, and headed back for showers, snacks and dinner. It was snowing lightly when we finished for the day, and it just kept getting heavier and heavier, and started sticking. Looking forward to freshies tomorrow, will have to be up early.

 

Towns tucked away in the mountains

France – Towns tucked away in the mountains

OMG Snow

OMG Snow

pretty rivers in the mountains

Pretty rivers in the mountains

Winter has finally started in full force, and it snowed in many parts of the UK overnight. I slept in super late, but eventually we got up, and biked up to Devils Dyke, for some exercise.   It had totally snowed, though most of it had melted by the time we got up there.  However, we enjoyed the bracing air (ie freezing), and wandered around in the mud for a while, to get excited about the itty bitty bit of snow.    Looking forward to our ski trip in a few weeks, when we get to see real snow!

A tiny snowman, with malteser eyes

A tiny snowman, with malteser eyes

Dramatic clouds

Dramatic clouds

See?? Snow

See?? Snow

Selfie, of course

Selfie, of course

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We left Jasper smothered in snow, and drove off to Grande Prairie.  I was concerned we wouldn’t get to see any wild mountain sheep, but no chance of that… barely out of Jasper, and there was a herd all over the road, and everyone had stopped to wait for them.   Got to stop too, and take pictures, while the sheep just ambled across the road, unconcerned.

Totem pole in Jasper

Totem pole in Jasper

Wild sheep

Wild sheep

Mr Plow

Mr Plow

If you turn left here, then drive approximately 2600 km, then you will reach Alaska!  (Which is longer than NZ).

If you turn left here, then drive approximately 2600 km, then you will reach Alaska! (Which is longer than NZ).

Saw another herd on the road 10 minutes along, then another herd a wee way after, up on the rocks.    Saw a couple of eagles, and some mule deer peeping out of the trees, but that was pretty much it, and the rest of the drive was simply trees, trees, lakes and snow.  For about four hours.
Grande Prairie is a sizeable town though, and we are staying on a cute little farm just north of it.

We get to help feed/clean/milk/move the numerous cows, calves,pigs, chickens, rabbits, emus, turkeys, geese, rabbits.   Give food, hay, water, bottles of milk.  The calves are the cutest.

There are 3 cats, that live in the barn

There are 3 cats, that live in the barn

Hungree calf

Hungree calf

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Chickens are hungree too

Chickens are hungree too

Last night the heating system broke, so it was pretty cold inside, and even more so outside  (-30).    I had all the blankets I could find on the bed, which made it very cozy.

Henrietta the pig

Henrietta the pig

Flat

Flat

Snow cat

Snow cat

Justine, the other HelpX-er

Justine, the other HelpX-er

haha milking

haha milking

Robbie!

Robbie!

Little cow

Little cow

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Cow eggs

Cow eggs

The barn

The barn

The geese were very excited to get out of their house

The geese were very excited to get out of their house

The first night working we froze, running around outside in the dark was pretty darn cold.  Milking the cows by hand is nice though, very warm.   Some of the cows live in a barn, and mostly we look after those, and the cows who are about to give birth, and mums and calves recently born.  The barn is all steamy inside, with the breath and heat from the cows.   There are often ice crystals growing all across the inside of the roof and doors.   The cows that live outside often have ice crystals on them, or snow, if it has been snowing.

Bottle feeding the calves is fun.  The next time outside, they provided us with quilted overalls, which are the most amazing snuggly things (like onesies, but are appropriate to wear outside).  Keeps me nice and warm, and just have to have a scarf for over my face, and everything is good.

We have to give water to the cows twice a day, and only as much as they will drink; if we leave the water in their buckets, it is well frozen by the time we come back in the evening/morning.   Chilly.  If it freezes in the buckets, you have to spend a while getting the solid hunk of ice out.

The emus, chickens and geese provide eggs, but by the time we get them they are usually frozen.   Still good for in pancakes though.

Emu egg, chicken eggs, quail eggs

Emu egg, chicken eggs, quail eggs

We always had lovely sunsets, with soft pastel colours, and occasional bright oranges.
I got very excited when we arrived, as there is a treadmill!  The most exciting thing!!!!  I got to run, which was fantastic, run without feeling like your insides are freezing every time you breathe.  Never thought I’d see the day where I would be excited about a treadmill.

Grande Prairie

Grande Prairie

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Sunset

Sunset

Sunset

Sunset

 

We have changed all our plans now, after a couple of crazy planning days, and are leaving Grande Prairie in a few days, to drive back to Vancouver.

The cold snap was continuing, and it was again,  freezing.  I cannot stress how cold this day was.  There is no other feeling like the insides of your nostrils freezing!  My phone doesn’t like to operate in this cold, if I take it out for more than a minute, it has a hissy fit and turns off; it won’t turn back on until I have warmed it up again.

Our first day in Jasper we headed up the road, where you drive up a glacial valley, firstly to lovely views back over Jasper, then on to Maligne Canyon, to do the walkthrough.

Jasper

Jasper

Pyramid Mountain

Pyramid Mountain

We did the little walk down the way, and made our way to where the canyon opens out, and we climbed carefully down into it.  The river was frozen mostly solid, with only a bit of water flowing right near the bottom.  Water had flowed from the walls, and frozen, forming more walls of ice, ice all around!  The floor was super slippery, what with being sheet ice, and parts of the floor had little ice terraces, where water had flowed over the top, but then frozen.  It was very pretty, a bit otherworldly.
I wanted to spend longer down there, you can walk quite a way up teh canyon, but the lack of feeling on our feet made us leave.  The walk back to the car was great, as it warmed us up a bit.

Maligne Canyon

Maligne Canyon

Maligne Canyon

Maligne Canyon

Whoa, icicles

Whoa, icicles

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Maligne Canyon

Maligne Canyon

Maligne Canyon

Maligne Canyon

Maligne Canyon

Maligne Canyon

Maligne Canyon

Maligne Canyon

We then drove up past Medicine Lake to Maligne Lake, where we had lunch, then cruised back to town. This is an interesting area: Maligne Lake is a large glacier fed lake, the largest lake in Jasper National Park.  It flows down to Medicine Lake, which was created when the river backs up, and disappears underground.  It flows under and overground, and comes out furthur down in Maligne Canyon, where the walls are covered in fantastic ice sculptures, from the different springs and parts of the river that flow and emerge from underground.

Maligne Lake

Maligne Lake

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Medicine Lake

Medicine Lake

After driving around some of the smaller lakes, we saw a squirrel, and another coyote, this one had some lunch in its mouth.

We watched a few squirrels, then headed back to town to get warm again.

The next day we had planned to drive to Valemont in BC, to get our licences sorted, but we gave them a call first, and I think we can use our NZ licenses for up to 6 months if just visiting.  We are only here for a bit longer, so it seems a shame to have to drive so far and pay money to change our licenses when its only for a month or so.
We ended up with a day and not much to do.  It was snowing, but a wee bit warmer, so we decided to walk the few blocks to town and check out the sights.

Parks Canada, in Jasper

Parks Canada, in Jasper

The cutest info centre

The cutest info centre

A church

A church

Just chillin on mah ice couch

Just chillin on mah ice couch

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You can't see me, behind the couch!

You can’t see me, behind the couch!

Rawr

Rawr

Goat

Goat

We checked out the Den, a little corridor of native canadian scenes set up with stuffed animals.  It was interesting to see, but it smelled a lot like dead animal.

The only moose we saw :<

The only moose we saw :<

We wanted to go to the museum, but that is only open Wednesday to Sunday.  We wandered back home (after lunch at The Bears Paw bakery – delishuz), and started the car with only a little reluctance, and drove to the Athabasca Falls.

"Poor" road condition

“Poor” road condition

Snow!

Snow!

IT was very lovely, another frozen in time falls, with a bit of deep blue in the small patch of water that hadn’t frozen.   We saw some squirrels playing near the car, and I got quite close to one who was just sitting there, eating his little nuts.  Two of them had a bit of a fight while running up a tree.

Athabasca Falls (Athabasca Frozen)

Athabasca Falls (Athabasca Frozen)

A wee bit of the river is flowing

A wee bit of the river is flowing

Slide

Slide

A canyon

A canyon

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I like it when I get to grow ice crystals on my face

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A SQUIRRULL

A SQUIRRULL

This is how we drive in Canada when it is cold.

This is how we drive in Canada when it is cold.

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A quick drive back to home, and dinner at a yum pizza place.  Also, we had dessert pizza that was filled with nutella, a dessert calzone, and it was delishuz.

This is what happens to mayo after it is frozen and unfrozen a couple of times

This is what happens to mayo after it is frozen and unfrozen a couple of times

 

Golden

We went to Golden to do some grocery shopping, get bulbs for the car (they suck at night), jeans for me.  Lots more mountains, snow, and a pretty sunset!

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A cutting through the road.   Easier than going over, I guess

A cutting through the road. Easier than going over, I guess

A bridge

A bridge

Watch out fr elk!

Watch out fr elk!

Sunset

Sunset

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A solid walking bridge

A solid walking bridge

 

 

Woke feeling super sleepy, wandered around Vancouver, checked out some of the shops, figured out what other clothes we need so we don’t freeze here, and was still super sleepy.

Outside the main stadium

Outside the main stadium

Walking over one of the bridges

Walking over one of the bridges

The evening we went to the lantern festival, which marks the Winter solstice.  It started with a small group of people walking down the street, following a few guys playing instruments, drums and a saxaphone.

The guys who led the people,  playing their instruments

The guys who led the people, playing their instruments

Lanterns

Lanterns

Was interesting, but didn’t seem that big a deal.  We stopped in a park, ate pies and had a drink, then the marching line continued to the next park.  Here there was a roped off area, and a whole pile more people were congregating.  There, a group of fire dancers performed, with feats like a burning hula hoop, fire poi, and fire eating.   It was a bit surreal, surrounded by the lights of the city, with fire and snow.  You can’t see from the picture, but they had a post in the ground that was pretty much just embers, they must have lit it on fire earlier, and were using the embers now to light their poi.

Fire dancing

Fire dancing

Later on they had a lantern labyrinth, which was pretty cool, and a few other things going on: making light drawings with rice and stuff, and a planaterium, and a lot of artists doing performances throughout the night.

Lantern Labyrinth

Lantern Labyrinth

Lantern Labyrinth

Lantern Labyrinth

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People making the pattern

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Light drawing creation

Light drawing creation

The final one we saw was a group of three people doing trippy music with a keyboard, guitar, drums, or a digeree doo.   That room was all dark, with a crazy lit up balloon tree, and large lantern flowers.  A bit trippy overall, but quite relaxing.  People were just lying around enjoying the music.

Balloon tree

Balloon tree

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Mac and cheese pizza, nom

Mac and cheese pizza, nom