Tag Archives: outdoors

Canada’s California: Palm Trees And More In Vancouver, BC

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Sitting on Canada’s west coast, the city of Vancouver, which sits at end of a low lying sliver of land in British Columbia’s southwest known as the Lower Mainland, experience considerably warmer weather than the rest of the nation as a whole.

Together with Vancouver Island and the North Coast, they are bubbles of mildness that endure through the vast majority of a harsh Canadian winter, with daytime highs averaging between 5 to 8 degrees Celsius (42 to 46 degrees Fahrenheit) at a time when the rest of Canada is in the deep freeze and buried under mounds of snow.

This temperate climate, combined with some of the best soil in the nation also allows a mind-boggling variety of plants to grow, and yes, as shown above, some of the hardiest palm trees in the world can indeed grow in Van City, lending the place more credence to its legendary status among weather-obsessed Canadians.

Here’s some more examples of horticultural brilliance that can be found in one of Canada’s best cities…

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With robust bushes of pink flowers and palm trees and a condo tower in the background, doesn’t this feel like Hawaii at first blush?  The water and the air might be a bit chillier, but use your imagination, people!

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Cherry trees are planted here in abundance and luckily for me, I was in town during blossom season.  Being in the mid to high teens Celsius (60’s in Fahrenheit) while Alberta continued to freeze also allowed the flower beds throughout public spaces like this one at the end of Davie and Denman to flourish in a truly spectacular fashion!

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Just a brilliant day to head to the beach, soak up the spring sun, and enjoy the beautiful bounty that such a horticultural and climatically rich part of the world has to offer to you.  Yes, Vancouver’s an expensive place to live or visit, but with surroundings like this, the pain is worth the struggle to experience what can only be described as Canada’s California! 🙂

Ever been to Vancouver, or any other freakishly warm place when the rest of your country was suffering in the cold?  Tell us all about it below!

A Walk Through The Forefield Of The Columbia Icefields, Jasper National Park, Canada

Columbia Icefields, Jasper National Park, CanadaThe approach to the Saskatchewan Glacier at the Columbia Icefields, Jasper National Park, Canada.

Lying almost on the border of Jasper and Banff National Parks alongside the highway that bears its name, the Columbia Icefields are the most visited attraction in Jasper National Park, and the second most trafficked destination in the Canadian Rockies, only bested by the more convenient Lake Louise.  Were it not for the distance involved in getting here, and the lack of a luxury hotel (though you can stay here in relatively basic but clean accommodations for upwards of $270/night in the high season and as little as $140/night in the low season), its visitation numbers might be higher.

Mountains in the Columbia Icefields, Jasper National Park, Canada

Here you have access to the land above the trees, where you can pick over rocky scree slopes that were once previously glaciated, and feel the bone-chilling glacial water that populates the outlet rivers and lakes formed by the nearby Saskatchewan Glacier.

Mountains in the Columbia Icefields, Jasper National Park, Canada

Walking along this relatively barren landscape, your mind shifts to the introspective aspects of its mission, evaluating one’s life to this point, and focusing on what one needs to do to advance to greater things in the future…

Mountains in the Columbia Icefields, Jasper National Park, Canada

Staring up at the ice that has accumulated over centuries and millennia of cold, snowy winters, one can’t help but be in awe of the chilled beauty that supplies that dry portions of the Canadian West with the water they need to survive from year to year, while providing them a legendary place to go and be at one with the wildness of nature.  All the more reasons to do what we can to reduce our impact on a warming climate to the lowest extent possible!

Ever been to the Columbia Icefield?  Have a humbling glacier in your backyard? Tell us about it in the comments below! 

The Tangle Falls Area: The Most Underrated Part Of Jasper National Park

The Columbia Icefield, located across from Tangle Falls

As you approach the southern border of Jasper National Park, the mountain scenery begins to get more epic.  After crossing the flood plain of the Sunwapta River near Beauty Creek, the road begins to climb towards the Columbia Icefields.  Before reaching this national park’s best-attended attraction, nature puts on a spectacle on the side of the road.

I’m not sure if parts of this are even accessible (the pull off from where I took the photo above) anymore without paying an admission fee to the newly constructed Skywalk (opening Spring 2014), but the views are no less stunning in spite of that.  Observe as the ice sheet of the Columbia Icefield spills over the side of the mountain plateau on which it sits.  Trips out onto the ice are available from guides in Jasper, but don’t attempt this yourself: guides have intimate knowledge of the crevasses that crisscross this area, which if fallen into can cost you your life.

Tangle Falls area, Jasper National Park, Canada

Views of the mountains are quite stunning in this area, so don’t be in a rush to get to your destinations further south: stay a while and breathe in the pine needle scented air and relax!

Tangle Falls

A little further down the road lies the lesser known Tangle Falls, despite being stationed at the side of one of Canada’s busiest tourist drives.  This beauty is just hiding in plain sight, begging you to come closer and experience its wild nature close up…

Afterward, it was time to leave and carry on down the Icefields Parkway to the next point of natural interest.  It was with some reluctance, though, as I was graced with this view as I made my way back to my oversized Dodge Grand Caravan…

Tangle Falls area, Jasper National Park, Canada

Ever been to Tangle Falls on your journey up/down the Icefields Parkway? What did you think?

In Motion: The Power Of Athabasca Falls In Jasper National Park

Athabasca Falls In Jasper National Park is a sight that needs to be seen to be fully appreciated

After a fun-filled long weekend catching up with friends in Hinton and Jasper, Alberta, Canada, it was time to head back to the big city of Calgary.

The great thing about this is that the way back home traveled on one of the most beautiful drives on Earth, The Icefields Parkway.

One of the first major attraction of this scenic byway is the powerful Athabasca Falls, which inspires and humbles the soul all in one go.

It is a sight to be admired, but from a distance: many people over the years have slipped on the wet rocks and fell to their untimely deaths.

The water is ice-cold and the gorge produces a washing machine-like effect.  Appreciate this force of nature, but respect the barriers and don’t get too close!

If you can’t get away to the Canadian Rockies anytime soon, watch the video and feel the cool mist of this glacial river on your face…!

What is your favourite waterfall?  Feel free to link to your blog post on it, or anybody else’s in the comment section below!

Chill Out And Go Rafting In Calgary, Canada Next Summer!

The Elbow River is a great place to Go Rafting In CalgaryRafters float down the Elbow River in Calgary, with nary a care in the world…

In Calgary, summer is a short season. In a part of the world where snow has fallen on the city in August, a warm day is not wasted, nor taken for granted. With its close proximity to the Canadian Rockies, interest in outdoor recreation is much higher than many other urban centres in Canada. As such, one of the favorite activities of locals over the years has been to take a raft, blow it up, and set sail one one of two rivers that flow through the metropolitan area (The Bow and Elbow Rivers) and float along for several hours with friends and family, eventually arriving in the downtown area, where drinks and food are had before packing up and heading home.

If you want to go rafting in Calgary next summer, while making new local friends in the process, follow the steps below, and hopefully, we’ll see you join the Pirates of the Bow/Elbow next season!

1) Tell Your Friends – If you are living in the area and you want to go rafting in Calgary, let your friends know that you are interested in doing this. Usually, many people wait for someone to assume the mantle of organizer, rather than try to take the “responsibility” of doing it themselves. If they don’t glom on like you hoped, or if you are traveling in the area and don’t know anybody, and your hostel mates barely look up from their phone/laptop, then it’s time to get on the internet. Fire up meetup.com and search for groups that get together regularly to go on river rafting trips, like this one. Alternatively, you could also head over to Craigslist Calgary and post an inquiry on the community forum.  Yeah!

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2) Get The Gear – Next, you need a raft (probably bigger than the one pictured above if you got friends with you 🙂 ).  To fix this essential problem, there are many sports gear shops in Calgary that rent out rafts and associated gear for the day.  The times I have gone on the river, I didn’t deal directly with the retailer, but this Google search should get you started 😉

3) Get The Raft To The River – This is a two parter if you can swing it.  Ideally, get a friend to park a car at your take out point (a popular place is Prince’s Island Park downtown) so you can have easy transit back to where you started your adventure.  DON’T INFLATE THE RAFT UNTIL YOU GET THERE.  Seems obvious in retrospect, but it makes things easier, trust me! 🙂 If you don’t have two cars, a taxi will suffice, despite the added cost.

poe_parrafcalcanCredit: cuppojoe_trips (flickr.com)

4) Blow Up The Raft, And Go Rafting In Calgary – Get out on the river and have fun!  Just don’t be stupid like the folks above and forget to bring or wear life jackets!  The water of the Bow can be shallow in places, leading to a false sense of security.  It is always ice-cold, so if you get swept away by the current and can’t swim, you’ll be in serious danger of either drowning or succumbing to hypothermia.  Bear in mind that alcohol is also officially banned (as is all open alcohol in public) on the river, and police boats actively patrol looking for lawbreakers.  If you decide to bring some adult pops with you, exercise discretion and don’t draw attention to yourself, again, like these guys (I’m sure they are awesome people otherwise 🙂 )

Calgary is a city that worships the summer when it arrives, as the other 8 months of the year often feature winter weather in part or full effect.  If you want to go rafting in Calgary, just do it – join the locals in making the most of the bright and warm days out on the waters of the Bow and Elbow Rivers!

Have you ever rafted some awesome rivers in your neck of the woods?  Do they have the scene that Calgary does?  Let us know about it all below!

Photo: Ocean Swells Batter The Coast, Nova Scotia Canada

Optimized-hpim0416Storm driven surf batters the coast near Grand Etang, Nova Scotia, Canada

Recently, I’ve seen a number of posts on my home province of Nova Scotia Canada, and I can’t help but add to the buzz surrounding my deeply beautiful yet forgotten about province. While the Canadian Rockies, the BC mountains, and the urban superstars of Central Canada suck up all the attention of travel professionals, Nova Scotia, and her Atlantic siblings – New Brunswick, Prince Edward Island, and Newfoundland and Labrador, show their subtle yet seductive beauty to the trickle of visitors that cross the imaginary line where many people assume Canada has ended and a no man’s land of nothingness exists.

The pic above is of Cape Breton Island, in Nova Scotia, at her feistiest, when the winds are up, and waves are crashing on her shores. Bring yer rain gear – an umbrella will be torn to ribbons in the strong, gusty gales – and brave the possibility of occasional downpours to experience Cape Breton Island as it was meant to be experienced – not just in her perfect moments, but in her raw, edgier moods. It is in these moments during trips where memories that last a lifetime are formed…!