Sunday, April 24, 2005

The Great Canadian Rockies

The Great Canadian Rockies

I believe, there is no greater scenery on earth than the Canadian Rockies.
We flew from Ontario to Calgary, Alberta. My Buddy Dave was there at the airport waiting to drive us to his house. He and his wife Mary would be joining us on our vacation, a drive from their home in Calgary through the Rockies to Vancouver Island and back to their wilderness cabin in the Kootneys of British Columbia.

Calgary was cold when we left the following morning, snow was on the ground. By the time we reached Banff the snow was gone accept for snow capped peaks. What a magnificent place Banff is, but quite the tourist area and we were just passing through. On to Lake Louise our next stop. There is a eye opening view of a huge ice glacier at the end of the lake. Make sure you have a camera when travelling the Rockies.

First night we stayed at a Bed & Breakfast located just outside Salmon Arm. My first experience at lodging overnight in a B&B. The beautiful Log Cabin home made it a wonderful adventure and the breakfast prepared by the German lady was excellent.

You will want to make sure you keep gassed up when traveling through BC. Highways are excellent but sometimes it is miles between stops other than scenic lookouts. Every bend, every turn in the highway is a new breathe taking view.
When high in the mountains you will see towns below, they may take close to a hour to drive through. Wildlife sightings are common. Be extremely careful when leaving the vechicle to photograph. There seems to be no sound of approaching cars and they are usually travelling at a fair speed and no doubt taking in the sights. I had the scare of my life when Dave called out to warn me of a approaching vechicle, it was almost on top of me. I am sure the driver never seen me.

We stopped here many times during our travel to try our hand at stream fishing. A special place for me was just outside Grand Forks. Where I managed to catch a walleye in a stream and witness deer crossing the river. I had visions of buying a few acres for retirement. By buddy Dave was interested in property on Lake Christina . luckily he made a much better choice when buying in the Kootneys.
The biggest blight on the landscape is the logging. Whole mountain sides stripped of their trees, then the brush is burnt. Supposedly to promote new growth.. There are few giant trees left, But you will only find them on protected crown land. Trees so big that a car could easily park in them. But with so few of them left there is no longer safety by numbers. We witnesed a forest hit by high winds that toppled many of them.

Another highlight of our trip west was whale watching on the northern coast of Vancouver Island.
Vancouver Island is a trendy spot. Lots to see and do. We were disappointed in the rules and regulations regarding fishing. They have so many different fishing licenses that it costs too much to enjoy.

We motored back to the interior of BC and to Dave and Mary’s hideway. A beautiful cedar 3 bedroom cabin in the wilderness. All the comforts of home even hydro when the generator is fired up, otherwise it is cards by candle light or early to bed. The views are breathe taking when out in the boat. Surrounded with mountains some of them snow capped.
We past the days with boat rides and a shore picnics, hiking and mushroom hunting are what we did when not fishing.
Simple life but very effective.

We always have fond memories when we leave. Dave and Mary are such gracious hosts.

Sunday, April 10, 2005

Mexico Travel - Isla Mujeres

I never wanted to travel to Mexico, I had heard all the stories about Montezuma’s revenge (the stomach disruption). Being a food lover and unable to resist trying new tastes, it just seemed the unlikely place to go.

We had traveled extensively to the Caribbean and were looking for new horizons, something quaint, but yet busy enough to not get bored.
I came across an Isla Mujeres travel board and a discussion forum on the Internet.
All the chitchat sounded like our kind of place and it definitely was.

Isla Mujeres - the island of women is located just off Cancun. A one time sleepy little fishing village, now alive with tourism. It is a 20-minute ferry ride to and from the island via the Puerto Juarez ferry landing.
They have a tremendous ferry service, with ferries leaving approximately every 20 mins. One way cost is $3.50 US per person. Many tourists from Cancun make the trip to enjoy a day on the island.

When landing on the island, there are plenty of wanting helpers to carry your bags to a taxi, or to your hotel if it is located near by. Usual charge is $1.00 per bag but you are free to pay any reasonable amount. The people of Isla are courteous and friendly.

When you come off the ferry dock there are three ways to go, to the left, right, or straight ahead. Turn left and follow the street to the very end (a short walk), you are at the popular north beach. Turn right and keep going you will leave the main business section and headed to the south end of the island approx. 5 miles (very scenic). Bus it or taxi both very cheap.
Travel straight ahead from the ferry dock and you are headed to the main downtown area. Two blocks down straight ahead is Hidalgo the center for shopping and exploring new restaurants. A strip - we frequent often, great dining experiences for people watchers. Walk 4 blocks and you have reached the Caribbean Sea.

Whether wandering the streets, the beaches, or the waterfront, never did we feel uncomfortable. The people are extremely friendly and helpful.
There is a loyal tourist base in Isla, once visited; it is almost impossible to not want to return.
Don’t expect to find Hi-Rise hotels and all-inclusive resorts. Avalon Hotel on the northerly tip being the exception. There are many reasonable accommodations and excellent restaurants to choose from. Every type of eating establishment exists, from a hole in the wall, to fine dining on a beach.

Our bookings have been with Mornings in Mexico run by a lovely lady who is extremely efficient at returning all communicates promptly. She could be a representative for the Allstate commercial, the one that says, "you are in good hands with Allstate". Honest, reliable and highly recommended.
There are a couple of other property rental agencies, Isla Beckons and Lost Oasis that are no doubt excellent also according to the chitchat of the Internet.

Best investment for our vacation was a map of Isla Mujeres, they have to be purchased before you leave home and worth every penny. Don’t leave home with out one. There is so much to see and do and the map is a great aid at finding the way around. They can be purchased on line by contacting Map Chick at .

There are many ways to get around the island. You can rent golf carts, scooters, bicyles, take the public transit for 30 cents or a taxi 1to 5 US. dollars, but most of it can easily been seen by hoofing it.

Sitting on a beach under a palm tree sipping a cold refreshment, lounging in a hammock reading a book, snorkeling in crystal clear waters, and dining under the stars, are tonics for the winter blues. Although, winter is not necessary to enjoy a trip to Isla Mujeres.
Isla Mujeres is the island of Isla-holics, those, who return year after year to their little corner of paradise and as many times a year as they can afford to get away.