NY Day 3: Miss Liberty, and a ton of people

The weather dawned bright and sunny, with a bit of a breeze.  Our room is still stifiling hot – the central heating is all connected and stays the same temperature.  We have had our window open constantly since we arrived, and it hasn’t cooled down.  Outside is 2-3 degrees, inside must be over 20.

We did the usual getting ready and headed out on the subway.   This time to the bottom of Manhattan, where we joined the masses going to Liberty Island.  If you ever decide to go to NYC, and want to climb to the crown of the Miss Liberty, make sure you book it well in advance.   Like  three months.  As soon as you know you’re going to NY.  Currently it is booked out until the beginning of July.
We went through the serious security checks again, and had people telling us which line to get in.  As if we can’t see.  Take jackets, scarves, hats off, all bags through xray.  Crazy.  The island itself was patrolled by various army guys, armed with various large guns.

Winter Park
Winter Park
Delishuz pretzels
Delishuz pretzels
Security have the big guns
Security have the big guns

Instead of going to the crown, we wandered around the outside of the island, with the rest of the thousands of tourists.  I was a little disappointed as we boarded the boat, but that is what you get for not planning far enough ahead.  We’re doing pretty well so far, with our turn up on the day and see if it works way.  I really did enjoy it, and all you would really get that is extra, is a view of the Manhattan skyline, for which there are many other buildings to climb anyway.   The Statue of Liberty was lovely though, plenty of views of it, and they have an audio tour, which makes your walk much more interesting.  Liberty is weathered green, and made of a thin copper sheeting, laid over a wrought iron frame.  Mounted on a large stone pedestal, the money for the pedestal was entirely raised by the American Public.

Backside view
Backside view
Manhattan skyline
Manhattan skyline
Woo skyline
Woo skyline

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Frontal view
Frontal view
Look at me, I'm a statue of liberty!
Look at me, I’m a statue of liberty!

After the tour, we stood shivering with the crowds until the boat came.  We stopped over on Ellis Island for a bit, where the immigration museum is, had a brief look around, then took the boat back to Manhattan.

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Back to our favourite subway again, and we headed uptown to Murray’s Bagels, where we ate some very delishuz bagels.  I appreciated the customer service here too – many places aren’t rude, but arent exactly smiley or helpful either.  Murray’s was smiley and helpful, and delishuz.

Eaaaaglleeeee
Eaaaaglleeeee
Close up
Close up
A turkey.  Not sure where he came from
A turkey. Not sure where he came from
Murray's Bagels!
Murray’s Bagels!
A dress
A dress

After eating all the bagels, subway-ed further uptown to a shoe shop, failed to buy shoes, and happened to go past Union Square, so we stopped for a look.  It is apparently where everyone hangs out, just to sit, read, relax.  It was bustling and cheerful, with squirrels in the trees, and some people filming something near one end, and  a vege market going on down the other.

A squirrel!
A squirrel!
Squirrel hunting
Squirrel hunting
Building
Building
They were filming something in Union Square
They were filming something in Union Square

The last stop of the day was Times Square.  We hopped off the subway at Times Square and 40th, and emerged onto the street.   We always find it hard to get bearings when we get out of the subway – who knows which way is which!  After getting our bearings, we found Broadway, and headed up it.  Into the seething mass of humanity.  It was ridiculous.  Masses of people walking everywhere.   Billboards all over everything,, advertising clothes, broadway shows, doughnuts.  Lots of people dressed up as Disney characters etc, that trick you into getting your photo taken with them, then expect a tip.   (NB: Don’t get your photo with the Batman or the Elmo hanging out at Times Square, not unless you want to pay them!).

Times Square
Times Square
Times Square
Times Square
Times Square
Times Square
Times Square - Broadway signs
Times Square – Broadway signs
Times Square
Times Square

We wandered up to the red stands, where we sat for a bit, watching the masses of people, and the constant stream of cars, that were mostly taxis.

In Canada (everywhere else but Vancouver), we liked to play the game of Truck.  You watch the vehicles going past, and say what kind they are (When I say truck here, I mean ute, still a personal vehicle but often with a tray on the back, and often quite huge).  It was usually: “Truck, truck, suv, truck, suv, truck, truck, oooh, a car! truck, truck, suv, truck truck…”  Most vehicles seemed to be large utes.   In NYC, the game turns into: “Taxi, taxi, HONK, taxi, car, taxi, taxi, service vehicle, taxi, HONK HONK, taxi, car, taxi, taxi”.  And they’re all yellow.  It is just like in the movies.

McDonalds Times Square
McDonalds Times Square
M n M shop
M n M shop
Print your own
Print your own

 

Vending machine in Brooklyn offers bike repair parts
Vending machine in Brooklyn offers bike repair parts

Lots of people trying to sell you stuff, especially tickets to comedy shows.  I’m pretty sure there would be a catch though, like its booked out for the next week, or you could only go on off nights.   We had no less than 4 different vendors try and sell us tickets.  We didn’t buy any.  Dale had to nom a burger from McD’s, then we headed home.  Dinner was back near the hostel, in Brooklyn.  Dale had scoped out some ideas he day before, so we headed to a place called Roberta’s, on Moore St.  It doesn’t look like a restaurant.  No signs, except for a the singular word “Roberta’s” hung above the door.

The door with the red sign over it: Roberta's
The door with the red sign over it: Roberta’s

It looks like any other cheapish housing building in the area, and no indication that it is anything much, except a small group of people hanging out near it.  A door stands open, and you enter through a red curtain, to be greeted with another  plain, wood door.  Through that is like another world.  Dark and vibrant, there are people seated at all the tables, a few waiting for take away meals, and the pizza making crew working busily and precisely in the corner.  We ordered a classic, the margarita.  It was excellent pizza.

 

 

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Times Square
Times Square
Times Square
Times Square

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New York Day 2: 9/11, Highline, Chelsea Market

We had planned to go to the Natural History Museum today, but somehow our plans all got changed.  We started by heading to downtown Manhattan, where we hopped off the subway near the World Trade Center Location.

Fire Truck
Fire Truck
Rebuilding
Rebuilding

We stopped to check if they had any space to check out the memorial (you need a day pass, which is free, but you have to be given a time to go in, as they are still constructing around it).  They had space, so we started with that.  We checked out the small church on the next block, St Paul’s Chapel.  Built in 1764, and I think is the oldest surviving church in Manhattan.  It survived the Trade Center attacks and subsequent building collapses (without even a broken window), and after, it acted as place of gathering and rest for volunteers and rescuers.  The fences around the church were where many people left flowers, pictures, tokens as a memorial.  After the fences were filled, church officials put up 15 panels for people to use, but in the end, they needed about 400 boards.  Not a lot of memorials on the fences these days, but there are lots of people trying to sell you memorial books.

St Paul's Chapel
St Paul’s Chapel
St Paul's Chapel
St Paul’s Chapel
St Paul's Chapel
St Paul’s Chapel

A small church, but a center of hope and support.  The memorial site was interesting.  They have the first three of the 7 buildings that are going back up, built, and they are glass paned and interesting.  The new buildings are being erected in different places to the lost buildings.  Where the original two towers used to be, there are now remembrance water features.  Each is a square, sunk into the ground, with water flowing down the walls, across the floor, then down into a well in the center.  Each well is surrounded by a wall with the names of all the victims on it.

One of the new trade centre buildings
One of the new Trade Center buildings
9/11 Memorial fountain
9/11 Memorial fountain

The whole thing made me quite sad.  So many people died.

 

 

After that, we headed across to a computer shop, where we purchased me a laptop.  It didn’t take us long on our trip to realise we each needed our own laptop, but it took this long to find one that was appropriate, not too expensive, didn’t have to be posted, and didn’t require an American or Canadian credit card to buy.  We stopped by Best Buy to get me a case, then headed far uptown to the Chelsea Market, for a gander and an eating of delishuz food.   We had sandwiches from the Num Pang Sandwich shop, and donuts covered in fancy sugar (I had gingerbread, cranberry and sage sugar) while sitting next to an interesting water fountain.

Subway!
Subway!
Chelsea Market
Chelsea Market
Foods
Num Pang Sandwich shop
Lighted water fountain
Lighted water fountain
So many places to go!
So many places to go!

Conveniently just outside was where the High Line started, so we climbed aboard and wandered along that.  It is an old rail line, that runs along a couple of stories above the road level, that they have converted into a long park type place ,with trees, benches, flowers and grass.    It was a little bare, what with it being only just spring, but there were a few crocuses poking their heads up in a few places.  It was a good walk, nice to walk and see all the buildings, and to get the views down the New York Streets.

Highline
Highline
Highline
Highline
New York Streets The Highline
New York Streets
The Highline
New York Streets The Highline
New York Streets
The Highline
The sun even came out for a few moments Highline
The sun even came out for a few moments
Highline
Reflecty buildings
Reflecty buildings
Street Art
Street Art
New York Streets The Highline
New York Streets
The Highline

After the Highline, we decided on more shopping (I need to replace my running shoes), so we headed uptown even more.  The subway is great.  We popped up right next to Central Park, and checked out the local sports store.  None of my shoes, but a guy who was very interested in us and where we have come from, and he definitely wanted my fox hat.  I wouldn’t trade it though.  They didn’t have my shoes, but it wasn’t a lost cause, as we headed straight into Central Park.

Does that make it art?
Does that make it art?
Parking
Parking
Fanciest post office ever
Fanciest post office ever

IMG_0701 IMG_0706

It is quite big.  Also, within a few minutes of walking, I was surrounded by so many squirrels, I didn’t quite know what to do.  At one point I counted 6 that I could view all at once. They weren’t particularly scared of people; I think they know people often have food, and a couple came right up close to me, if I threw them discarded bits of acorn.  SO VERY CUTE.

Central Park
Central Park
Central Park
Central Park
Central Park
Central Park
Central Park
Central Park
Central Park
Central Park

 

That entertained me for a while, but eventually we walked through a little bit, encountering a few patches of snow, lots of squirrels, lots of nut carts, and a guy making massive bubbles.  There are lots of statues, and we saw a few small lakes.  I definitely intend to go back there, this time with my camera battery charged (I forgot to charge it last night, it died halfway through today.  Bad Becca).

 

Manhattan from Central Park
Manhattan from Central Park
Central Park
Central Park

 

A subway ride all the way back to Brooklyn, where I summoned up enough energy to sort my new lappy out, and write a few blog posts.

 

Chelsea Market
Chelsea Market
Mini doughnuts - with specialty sugars
Mini doughnuts – with specialty sugars
Don't do it
Don’t do it

 

New York Streets The Highline
New York Streets
The Highline
Highline
Highline
Holly!   Actual, real, holly, not just the pictures on christmas cards!
Holly! Actual, real, holly, not just the pictures on christmas cards!
Doorways
Doorways
New York Streets The Highline
New York Streets
The Highline

New York, New York: Sardine subway, art, buildings and Broadway.

We woke early, with some difficulty, breakfasted and showered, and left the hostel at 9am, with a big day planned.

We had scouted out all the different passes you can get for touristy stuff in New York (there are quite a few, and good deals), but we ended up buying the CityPass, which is entry to 6 tourist places for I think it was $109usd. It can be quicker to use the passes, you can often skip lines for tickets.  The other was the New York Pass, which is twice the price for 5 days, but you can choose any up to 80 different attractions.    We didn’t think we would have time for that/didn’t want to be that rushed.

The other useful purchase was the 7 day transit pass/card. All you can ride, for 7 days, for $30usd. Is great, we can
just come and go as we please, with no need to worry about buying tickets. Also useful, as we are staying a half hour
subway ride out of the city, in Brooklyn.
We had our first experience of the busy time on the subway – packed like sardines on a subway train.  It was interesting, on the subway I saw so many people with actual books.  In fact, most people were reading actual books, rather than e-readers.

Busy subway
Busy subway

We got off the subway, climbed stairs, and emerged, finally to New York City. How Exciting!  All the subway trains have the USA flag on them.

Taxis
Taxis
NYPD
NYPD
Mounted police.  Tried to get a picture, but mostly the horsie wanted to bite me
Mounted police. Tried to get a picture, but mostly the horsie wanted to nibble on my arm

We wandered down the road, marvelled at all the people, the tallness of the buildings, and the sheer amount of taxis, and came across St Patrick’s Cathedral. Ok, sounds good, I said. It is huge and amazing. I am not a church person in terms of religion, but man, they built some amazing buildings. They are currently cleaning the place up, so unfortunately much of it is covered in scaffolding, but the bits we could see were pretty amazing. Massive pillars, carvings on all the walls and grottos, massive stained glass windows, and great arching roofs. Lovely. The scaffolding was a little sad, but I guess they have to clean it up at some point.

Scaffolding :<
Scaffolding :<
St Patrick's Cathedral
St Patrick’s Cathedral
A roof  St Patrick's Cathedral
A roof
St Patrick’s Cathedral
A large pillar St Patrick's Cathedral
A large pillar
St Patrick’s Cathedral
St Patrick's Cathedral
St Patrick’s Cathedral
Carvings in the alcoves St Patrick's Cathedral
Carvings in the alcoves
St Patrick’s Cathedral
Scaffolding :< St Patrick's Cathedral
Scaffolding :< St Patrick’s Cathedral

Next we wandered down to the Rockefeller Centre, where we spent a bit of time trying to figure out if 30 Rockefeller Plaza
is an actual place… Turns out it is the main building.  We wandered around the plaza, ice rink, Lego Store, and all the
sculptures.

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30 Rockefeller Center
30 Rockefeller Center
Ice rink is being groomed
Ice rink is being groomed

P1220034 P1220037
We then headed over to the Museum of Modern Art, where we viewed many things, including Starry Night, by Van Gogh (one of
my favs), a number of works by Picasso, my favourites of which were the water lily walls and agapanthus flower.

Monet - water lillies.  This artwork is massive.  Had to take it in a panorama
Monet – water lillies. This artwork is massive. Had to take it in a panorama
Agapanthus
Monet – Agapanthus
My favourite!   Starry Night
My favourite! Starry Night
Giorgio de Chirico. Gare Montparnasse (The Melancholy of Departure). 1914
Giorgio de Chirico. Gare Montparnasse (The Melancholy of Departure). 1914
Soup
Soup
PIcasso
PIcasso

P1220091

It was very interesting, but we didn’t manage to see it all. It is like 6 floors and massive. The cafes have queues to get in, but are quite yummy.  Also, tons of people. I guess tourists don’t care that it is mid week.  Quite a line up to see the popular artworks, and some of the exhibitions were quite crowded.
After MOMA, we headed to the Rockefeller Center, where we zoomed very quickly up the lift to the top. Fastest lift I’ve ever been in. They had a full security check, with metal detector and bag xray, and security guards everywhere. It was starting to rain, but we still had a decent, if slightly misty, view of the NY Skyline in both directions: Central Park to the north, and Empire State to the South.

Looking north from Top of the Rock
Looking north from Top of the Rock
Looking south from Top of the Rock
Looking south from Top of the Rock
Looking south from Top of the Rock
Looking south from Top of the Rock
Empire State Building
Empire State Building, lower Manhattan

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A light show
A room, where the lights know where you are, and follow you around.

We zoomed back down the lift again, and headed off through the Rockefeller Plaza. Unsure what to do next, we came across a Ben and Jerrys, so I spent 10 minutes ummng and aahing over what I wanted. We shared a sugar coma inducing sundae, with masses of icecream, hot fudge sauce, and brownie. Yum.  I think I was too distracted eating it, as I don’t seem to have any pictures.

We had a bit of time to kill, as we were going to a Broadway show in the evening (excite!!!). We headed over to the NY Public Library. Which is the fanciest library that I have ever seen. It is massive, and all marble and pillars and carved walls and sconces and fancy roofs… Took a while to find actual books, but the building itself is very impressive.

New York Public Library
New York Public Library
Fancy inside
Fancy inside
Inside the maps room
Inside the maps room.  Detail everywhere

Next stop was Grand Central Station. And again, massive! So very, very, big. When we were in Vancouver a few days ago, we were in the Central Station there, where apparently the guy who built it was keen to imitate the Grand Central in NYC. He did manage that, if he was building a small model. Grand Central NYC..huge. and so very many people. People everywhere.
And 2 or 3 layers of trains. Who knows. We saw trains, then walked down and saw more trains. And people. Ridiculous.
We ate dinner in Grand Central, decent amounts of turkish.

Grand Central Terminal
Grand Central Terminal

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Hugeness
Hugeness
Fancy toilets
Fancy toilets

Finally, to the best part of the day, back on the subway, and off to our Broadway Show! We had chosen to see Wicked, for various reasons. It has been on for 10 years, therefore must be good; visually pleasing; good reviews. and a NY type one.

Time for a Broadway show....guess which one!!?!
Time for a Broadway show….guess which one!!?!

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Fantastic set
Fantastic set

It was marvellous, I really enjoyed it. The stage and setup was all very interesting, the costumes were wonderful and made me miss all the skirts and dresses I got rid of before I left NZ, and the story was great. I’m not sure how it compares to other Broadway shows, as I haven’t seen them, but this twas totally up to my expectations. All it really did was make me want to see all the rest of the shows.
Finally, another visit to the subway, then home and bed by 11pm. Eek.

Headddssssss
Headddssssss
Star Wars Lego
Star Wars Lego
Simpsons Lego
Simpsons Lego

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Moma
Moma
Picasso.  Still life with three puppies
Picasso. Still life with three puppies

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Many of the subway stops have prety tiling
Many of the subway stops have prety tiling
These little guys were hiding all around the subway
These little guys were hiding all around the subway
These little guys were hiding all around the subway
These little guys were hiding all around the subway

 

Travel across the continent

4am does exist.  I don’t think it should.  Nor do I think I should have to get up then.

Up at 4, quick shower, dress, and lug all our stuff out the door.   We booked our flights quite soon after we decided to go, so we booked an 8am flight.  8am seemed like a reasonable hour.  Getting up to be at the airport 3 hours before for an 8am international flight is not so reasonable.

Waiting in the subway, with all our lovely bags
Waiting in the subway, with all our lovely bags

We managed to check in with the lady, after our online checkin didn’t work, then our kiosk check-in didn’t work.  She took a while – the computer was going slow, but she was very lovely and helpful, especially for it being 5am in the morning. She even sorted our seats so we were sitting together instead of separate.  I want to send her chocolates.   After that, we had to go through security.  Shoes off, belts off etc etc.   Forgot that custard counts as liquid, found out after we had gone through security, so we had to go back one at a time and eat as much as we could, otherwise we would just have to throw it out.    After eating, we then had to go through USA Customs.   I was taking an orange through (I thought it would be ok, as it was an orange from the USA, but no siree, not good), so we ended up going through extra screening to make sure we didn’t have anything else.  Also, because we had been on a farm, they had to go find our checked bags, get them from wherever they were waiting, bring them to the special screening place, then scan them again.  We had to sit around a lot.  Then they had to send the bags back off to the plane.

Finally made it through, to sit and wait for our plane.    First flight was 3-4 hours. Tea and cookies, and we watched Top Gear.

Mountains
Mountains

 

All the planes
All the planes go through Minneapolis
Snowy highway near Minneapolis
Snowy highway near Minneapolis

Changeover in Minneapolis (everything was snowy), then onto a little plane to fly to Newark, New Jersey.  It seems that so many planes go through Minneapolis on their way to other locations.  On the plane  I slept for a bit, coz just soooo tired (my travel pillow immediately proved its worth!).  We arrived at Newark Airport on time. Dale’s bag arrived, my bag, and the snowboard bag didn’t.  After being the only one waiting alone, forlornly, by the empty carousel, I asked baggage services.  Luckily my bags were only an hour behind me, on the next flight.  Better than the people ahead of us in line, whose bags weren’t arriving till the next day.  The thought of wearing the same smelly travel clothes for a couple of days made me sad.  They also gave us free food vouchers while we waited.   I bought a salad, knowing I should eat some veges at some point.  Bags finally arrived, and Dale got the snowboard bag and ran off with it, and some poor guy came and took it off us..coz it was actually his.  Turns out we had exactly the same snowboard bag.  Our one came out soon after

We had booked to fly into Newark when we thought we would be staying in Manhatan, which we didn’t; ended up staying in Brooklyn.  It meant a bit of travel once we arrived.  We caught a sky train, then another train, then another train, then another train, all the way through the city to Brooklyn, where we only had a 2 block walk to our hostel.   We are staying at NY Loft Hostel, which is really quite nice, it is a bit more of an upmarket hostel, although the shower next to our room is a sad one.

We grabbed dinner from the mexican food cart around the corner, and it was filled with delishuz.  We sat down to briefly plan the next day, before falling asleep.

Totes quesadilla
Totes quesadilla

 

We have 6 days in New York, and need to make sure we do all the things we want to!

 

Bonus pictures of messy poutine from Vancouver 😀

 

Hot mess II - Nacho version, with guacamole, sour cream, salsa
Hot mess II – Nacho version, with guacamole, sour cream, salsa
Hot mess  - poutine with mushrooms, pork, peas,
Hot mess – poutine with caramelised onions,  mushrooms, pork, peas,

Last Day In Canadia

I enjoyed Vancouver more this time.   I think cause we weren’t trying to buy or sell a car.

Monday we slept in late, and eventually got up and went outside.  It was quite nice, even occasionally sunny.  Must be awsum type weather for Vancouver though, as we saw at least 3 convertibles with their tops down.  I guess they have to make use of the sun when it comes out.

Harro bikes!
Harro bikes!
I got excited about one of the very few roundabouts in the American Continent.
I got excited about one of the very few roundabouts in the American Continent.
A black squirrel
A black squirrel

We wandered down the road towards Stanley Park, and hired a tandem bike.  Much hilarity ensued, and we cruised around the waterfront, checked out the totem poles, and the views along the waterfront.

Totem pole
Totem pole
Totem Poles
Totem Poles
At one with the totem poles
At one with the totem poles
Tandem bike!
Tandem bike!
Vancouver
Vancouver
On the back.. very tricky to take a photo
On the back.. very tricky to take a photo
A lighthouse and a sulphur pile
A lighthouse and a sulphur pile
Rocky shore
Rocky shore
"A girl in a wetsuit", and two gulls
“A girl in a wetsuit”, and two gulls

We then went to Beaver Lake, then through all the red cedar trees.  It was pretty.  Near beaver lake, some birds sat on our hands.  We talked to the park rangers, who were digging out a drain in the lake.  Turns out they have to dig it out every day, due to the beavers that live on the lake.   Every dawn and dusk, the beavers are out, filling up the drain and anywhere else they can hear running water..  We could see the beaver lodge out on the lake, but no beavers.

A real beaver lodge, made by real beavers!!!!
A real beaver lodge, made by real beavers!!!!
Beaver Lake
Beaver Lake
A tiny bird that wanted food from me
A tiny bird that wanted food from me

I wanted to see beavers.  Even though it meant we would be up late packing.  So we zoomed off around the rest of the park, then home, spent a wee bit of time planning our next city.

Tandem
Tandem
Lions Gate Bridge
Lions Gate Bridge
The leftovers of a really huge cedar tree
The leftovers of a really huge cedar tree

 

At about 6.30pm we caught the bus down to Stanley Park.  There were already two people waiting, one with a MASSIVE camera, and one older guy on a bike.  They were staring at the lake intently, so we joined them.   With quiet conversations we learned that the beaver had poked his head out 10 minutes before, but had gone back inside.  We were super excited.  After 20mins of watching, no beavers.  I was disappointed, but not particularly surprised.  The moose didn’t come out when I wanted to see him either.    We started talking to the guy, and suddenly I saw a little head bobbing in the water – Thats not a duck!!   with his little nose poking above the water, and his body floating along behind,  he took a lap around the front part of the lake near the drain.  Very cute.  He duck dived over by some reeds, and we didn’t’ see him again fro a bit.  He came out again as it was nearly dark, took another lap, then cruised over to the far side of his lodge, and sat there digging up roots and eating them.  So cute.  Once it was nearly full dark, we could jsut see him on the other guys camera screen, even though he was just a black blob in reality.  Amazing camera.  The photographer was nice enough to offer us a copy of a photo he had taken.  I personally didn’t get any photos of him, as it was pretty dark, and our little point-and-shoot just didn’t cut it.

 

Beaver.  Photo by Bruce Moffat
Beaver. Photo by Bruce Moffat
Sunset over Beaver Lake
Sunset over Beaver Lake

We were just in time to catch the bus home again, where we quickly made dinner, made a variation of trifle for breakfast the next day (muffins, chopped up, mixed with jam, and then the whole lot smothered in custard…it was all left over food we were trying to eat), packed everything in our bags, and planned to get up at 4am the next day.

 

Don't actually need two people
Don’t actually need two people
Looking towards the Strait of Georgia
Looking towards the Strait of Georgia
Cycle lanes
Cycle lanes
A small house in amongst the massive apartment buildings
A small house in amongst the massive apartment buildings

Vancouver Take 2

We got lost trying to leave Kamloops (gmaps doesn’t work well if you’re driving in anywhere that has highways and ramps, and you leave it on walking mode), then had lunch in the small town of Hope, before finding a place called Chilliwhack, where we examined a museum. Vancouver surprised us by being warm when we arrived, like 15 degrees, and a little bit sunny.   has rained since then though.  It likes to rain a lot in Vancouver.

The town of Hope is very specific about what goes on in its' parks.
The town of Hope is very specific about what goes on in its’ parks.
Baer in Hope
Baer in Hope
Bear carving in Hope
Bear carving in Hope
A bagpiper statue in Chilliwack
A bagpiper statue in Chilliwack

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The Chilliwack Museum
The Chilliwack Museum

We spent Friday sorting out the car, which we sold and sorted that day.  We also sorted our New York accommodation, and my flights back to NZ.   A very productive day.

 

All the Flags
All the Flags
Last car huggle
Last car huggle

Saturday was time to see some more sights of Van, and we took a walking tour of Granville Street and Gastown.  It was very interesting, and the tour guide was interesting and seemed to enjoy what he was doing.   The main thing I took away from the tour was that Canadians like to drink, they like hockey, and they occasionally like to riot.   Once, they rioted after they lost a hockey game (a very important one), but it is ok, because the next day they all helped clean up the mess. The town as a whole seems to like neon signs (they show up well in the rain).

The Art Museum.  Protesters protesting outside
The Art Museum. Protesters protesting outside
Fairmont Hotel
Fairmont Hotel
The first neon sign
The first neon sign

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The "Steam" Clock
The “Steam” Clock
An alleyway
An alleyway
A statue
A statue
A well painted city thing
A well painted city thing

It was a bit chilly, and it rained a lot on the tour, but it was still good.   We went out for good poutine with our roomate Emma, who was having her last poutine before heading back to Australia.
Sunday was just gonna be relaxy, but we heard bagpipes outside, and remembered that there was some sort of parade on, so we threw on some clothes and ran off down the street, where we watched the St Patricks Day Parade, (which had 6 different pipe bands playing!) and then wandered through the food stands and irish stands.. They had bands playing during the day, and people dancing in the streets (which were closed especially).   The guy who was introducing the bands amused me greatly, by exclaiming that the weather was good!  It was actually overcast, and the ground was wet.. but it wasn’t too cold, and most importantly, it wasn’t raining! The only sad thing about parades, as an adult, no one gives you candy or balloons.  Even if you are wearing a fox hat :<

One of the six pipe bands playing
One of the six pipe bands playing
Mounted police
Mounted police
Irish Dancers
Irish Dancers
A show of power
A show of power
A dragon
A dragon
Unicycle bagpiping with flaming drones (not shown)
Unicycle bagpiping with flaming drones (not shown)
Singers
Singers

After lunch was stocking up on maple syrup, sorting photos for blog posts (boo), and discussing packing.   I finally gave in and bought one of those bean filled travel pillows. The silly one you wrap around your neck.  I’ve always thought they were a bit silly, and annoying.  But in light of the last long flight I did, and knowing how much plane travel I’m doing in the next couple of months, I totally gave in and bought one.  It has black plush on one side, and red and black smiley face Canada Maple leafs on the other. We have to pack tomorrow.  Boo.

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We got free yoghurt!!!!
We got free yoghurt!!!!

 

Canada is Melting…Also, Puppies!!

After being in Grande Prairie a few days, and with a few reasons we realised we wanted to change every plan we had already made.We wrapped up our trip to Grande Prairie much sooner than we intended, only staying a week. After a very busy few days planning, we changed all our plans.    We leave Canada next week (cry!), flying out of Vancouver on Tuesday 18th March.  We are heading to New York (exciting!!!), where we will prance around and see the sights for a week, before leaving on a Jet Plane, to London!  Eeek!

My little brother Tommy, and his lovely fiancee Katharina, are getting married at the beginning of May, so that is kind of what threw us into alternate planning mode.  Hopefully I will be flying back to NZ for a couple of weeks then.

The first few days in Grande Prairie were super cold, but then the last few, it warmed up a ton, and everything started melting.   I am suspicious of this “Spring” that is happening, it is 10 degrees outside, and thoroughly balmy.   I think it is a ruse, spring has just happened like someone flicked a switch.  I’m sure it will get cold again… second winter!

We did our last few chores, and packed the car up again, and drove back to Jasper.  Half of the snow was gone.  Canada was no longer in black and white, but now had a range of colours, blue green in the rivers, tans and browns in the fields – we could actually see grass! – green and mossy on the trees, and grey and green of mossy rocks.  Lovely!  Some of the rivers have melted up tot he surface, so parts are visibly flowing again.

Farmstay
Farmstay
A building
A building
This was the closest town to us.
This was the closest town to us.
Lovely skies while driving
Lovely skies while driving
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Woodland

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Table has melted!!
Table has melted!!

 

It is tricksy though, everything melts a little, then cools and freezes again overnight, so you now have to watch out for patches of ice, where before there was just lovely snow.

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Mt Robson.
Mt Robson.

Today we did the best thing ever, husky dog sledding up a mountain valley… we went with Cold Fire Dog Sled Tours.  They seemed to keep their dogs well, and mostly I think they were the only place around Jasper to do dog sledding.  The dogs all seemed in fine form, all were SUPER EXCITED TO RUN< PLEASE LET US RUN, TIME TO RUN?  IS IT TIME? TIME TO RUN? PLEASE OH PLEASE RUN, RUN< RUN, RUN, RUNRUNRUNRUNRUNRUNRUN….   They all caused quite a commotion when it got close to the time of the sleds leaving, barking and howling and carrying on  Had to hold them back.

All lined up, ready to go.
All lined up, ready to go.
Aaaand we're off!
Aaaand we’re off!

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What was great on this tour, is that they let you steer a sled yourself if you want.  They give you the basic instructions and commands- start, top, braking, parking), and the tour guide rides the sled in front of you, so you are limited to their speed, but you get to steer and command the puppies…It was awesum!!!  I want to go back and do more.  It was so much fun having them all so excited about running, and that you could tell them to stop and go, and steer your little sled, and stop them from pulling you off into the drifts at the side of the trail, (Stop? they didn’t like to stop, you had to put the brake on, and tell them a few times, and if you were stopping for any length of time, put the anchor down, and when we stopped for lunch, they tied the sleds up, so they couldn’t just keep on running..).

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One person drives, one person gets to snuggle in the sled

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We had lunch cooked over a little fire, snacks, and apple cider (Which in Canada is actually just warm spiced apple juice), before zooming off again.  It was great fun 😀

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happy puppies
happy puppies

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Puppie likes to roll on his sback
Puppie likes to roll on his sback
Crazy eyes
Crazy eyes
Lunch fire
Lunch fire

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A river
A river
After run smiles
After run smiles
Lolling tounge
Lolling tounge
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Sled. Stand on the two outer poles, stand on the silver bar or black pad to slow the sled, stand with all your weight on the silver bar to stop, then put the anchor out!

Saw “Warning Moose Crossing” signs along the road, but unfortunately no moose.  We drove on to Kamloops, where we stay the night.

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The thing I am sad about is that I didn’t get tot see the northern lights.   In Grande Prairie, I was finally at a latitude that was high enough to see them if they were just a bit active.  However, they were not active this week.   Incredibly quiet compared to the previous weeks.  Or it was cloudy/snowing, so I couldn’t even see the sky.  Disappoint!

Tomorrow we head for Vancouver, where we sort out the car, then make sure all our belongings can fit into our bags for the plane ride.

Grande Prairie Farmstay

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.

Jasper – 3rd March

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

 

Icefields Parkway

We awoke bright and early in Banff, to a slightly chilly temp of around -30 degrees.  From what I heard, Sunshine skifield was on hold due to it being too cold…. wtf!!!  You know it’s pretty cold, when Canadians close their skifield.  We stopped at the supermarket to get some lunch, then headed north, along the section of road called the Icefields Parkway.  It is not a transit road, it is a scenery/tourist road, maintained by Parks Canada, and it one of the prettiest drives ever.

We stopped at all the places that were open.  It was very, very cold, but it was perfectly clear and sunny, which is what we wanted.  I will not go on about each place (hey look, another mountain!), but I do of course have pictures of each mountain.  Well, most of them.  There are more pictures than words in this post 🙂

Wildlife bridge
Wildlife bridge
A pretty range
A pretty range
Castle Mountain
Castle Mountain
Crowfoot Mountain
Crowfoot Mountain
Crowfoot Glacier
Crowfoot Glacier
Bow Lake
Bow Lake

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My favourite bits were:

Weeping wall – an ice covered wall, frozen and blue.  We stopped here for lunch, next to a very pretty little river.

Sasketchawan River
Sasketchawan River
Mount Wilson
Mount Wilson
Alexandra River
Alexandra River
Weeping wall
Weeping wall
Cirrus Mountain
Cirrus Mountain

 

Mistaya Canyon – very pretty!  There was a raven sitting at the edge of the pull-out, and his feathers were fluffed out all over his feet, I assume to keep them warm.  He didn’t want to move when I got close, but he eventually did, and looked a little put out.

A raven with fluffy feet covers
A raven with fluffy feet covers
Mistaya Canyon
Mistaya Canyon
Mistaya Canyon, Mount Sarbach in background
Mistaya Canyon, Mount Sarbach in background

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A small creature
A small creature

Athabasca Glacier – the glacier has retreated quite a way, but you can walk up almost to the face, to the frozen pool of water that sits in front of it.  Down one side you can see the exposed glacier, a beautiful deep blue, with layers and lines.  It was hidden away, most of the glacier is covered in snow.  On the walk up, there are lateral moraines (scree piles), tall on either side, and you climb up a terminal moraine.  Occasionally, the bedrock pokes through, and it is sleek and smooth to touch, slippery to walk on if wet, and you can see the lines scratched into it, from when the sheer mass of glacier was moving rocks across it.    The glacier is part of the Colombia Icefield, which is over 300m2, and feeds at least 8 glaciers.   It was pretty.  They had plenty of signs telling tourists not to try and walk on it, as people fall in to crevices and die.

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Handstand
Handstand
Glacier, ta-daa!
Glacier, ta-daa!
Glacial scrapings on rock
Glacial scrapings on rock
Lateral moraine
Lateral moraine

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Athabasca Glacier
Athabasca Glacier
Dale rolled down the hill
Dale rolled down the hill

 

 

Wild coyotes – Dale spotted one walking down a river, so we screeched to a stop, and jumped out to watch it.  It trotted down the river, peed on a rock, then continued on its way.  We spotted another one crossing the road in front of us further down the river, and we stopped to watch that one too.

Athabasca River
Tangle Ridge
Athabasca River
Athabasca River
Athabasca River
Coyote on the Athabasca River
Athabasca River
Athabasca River
Athabasca River
Athabasca River

There are around 100+ accommodation places that are guesthouses, located in the basement of peoples houses, in Jasper, a bit like in Field.  It seems to be a good way for people to make a bit extra from home.  Warm and snuggly, if no view, and we found a relatively cheap one for our few days in Jasper.  It was nice to have a lounge and space to ourselves.