Monday, September 26, 2016

North Melbourne - 37° 48' 47" S 144° 57' 4" E

Beautiful, marvelous Melbourne!

Springtime in Melbourne. A city in the grips of Finals Fever (Aussie Rules that is!). What other city has holidays for not one, but two sporting events? Friday is a day off for the Grand Final Parade and Melbournians enjoy the first Tuesday in November off for the horse race, the Melbourne Cup! A city with its priorities worked out.

And to make it more exciting, The Doggies are in the "Granny" for the first time since 1961 with their last premiership being 1954.  Many fans are watching their team in the Grand Final for the first time in their life!  Not a problem for me - Hawthorn has won twelve premierships in my lifetime - including three in the last three years.

The coffee really is fabulous and it is a joy to walk around the markets and grocery stores with the incredible range of tasty goods. The options in cream alone makes one want to whip up a pavlova. The restaurants tucked into alleyways off lane ways off lanes serve an extraordinary range of foods from dumplings to caviar.

And the Fringe Festival, an annual, independent arts festival, is treating Melbourne to some amazing productions.  We saw Emily Taylor in the one woman play "The Thick of It" in the tiny, eclectic theatre at the Butterfly Club (in a lane, off a lane...). The Melbourne Festival, a celebration of dance, theatre, music, circus, visual arts, multimedia, outdoor and free events,  starts at the end of the month with more marvellous entertainment for the city.

And cycling! Sigh, all those pretty bicycles! Pelotons of bright colours wizz by along Beach Road. We explored the new paths around Webb Dock and the developments along the Yarra. We can ride on back roads and bike paths from North Melbourne (my place) to Albert Park (my sister's) without the need to dodge traffic or ride through the Montague Street intersection.  Hurrah!

Vic Market never disappoints
Spring produce.  Spring!
Bananas on special
Hmm, where to start?
... aaaand more Vic market.  Can you tell
I love the Vic Market? 
Morning bicycles awaiting riders.  Help yourself!

Sunday, September 11, 2016

Fernie - 49° 29' 29" N 115° 4' 16" W

Traveller’s Review – Chez Pettigrew        

When we first heard about this opportunity for homeless itinerants, we thought it was too good to be true – friendly and engaging hosts; comfortable and spacious rooms; hot showers with luxurious toiletries; amazing mountain views; world-class meals prepared by their in-house chef – all wrapped up in mining-town chic decor. We are delighted to report that it lived up to and surpassed our expectations.

Easy to find, this jewel is located in the friendly summer AND winter playground of Fernie. We visited at the end of summer and enjoyed a late-season guided mountain bike tour on the Island Lake Lazy Lizard Trail (ask for Megan and Ali – they will give you a first class workout). If you are lucky, you may experience a night-time, outdoor-firepit-and-jaw-wag during a warm, autumn evening. We didn’t even notice midnight rolling past. Be sure and reserve a spot on the massive outdoor deck with built-in bench and comfy cushions where pre-dinner beer and wine are served – it’s sure to fill up fast! You are guaranteed to enjoy your time.

We’ll be back, for sure!!!

- Sean and Kate (itinerants since 2015)

Bike racks everywhere - our kind of town!
Local tour guides
Funky trash bin art
hard core guides are available on request
Locals, showing their talent
Pettigrew Family and visitors
Stunning views from the deck - Fernie Ski Hill in summer

Friday, September 9, 2016

Edmonton - 52° 32’ 03” N 113° 30’ 23” W

North Saskatchewan River, looking east
After the tour finished, Kate and I planned a few extra days in Edmonton. Staying at the Murphy's house, we dutifully abandoned them most evenings (leaving them in peace) as we caught up with other old friends. Frances, Patti and Don, Mike and Jill each had Kate and I over for dinner and a visit. Tales of what-so-and-so-was-up-to and what we know of you-know-who were exchanged, as well as our best stories were swapped … usually with glasses of wine used to help jog our memories.

Spending this time with everyone reminded me just how wonderfully lucky (it couldn’t have been wisdom way back then) I have been with picking friends. Here they all are, carrying on as interesting and entertaining people that I’m happy to still be in touch with. Aside from a few laugh lines around the eyes and buckets-full of experiences, most of them have not changed in over thirty years.

Conversely, how things have changed in this city that I once knew like the back of my hand. Some roads have been added, some taken away. Businesses that were landmarks for me have closed and the buildings have been completely obliterated, leaving me to question my memories of my youth.  As part of my trip down Memory Lane, I’ve walked or cycled Kate along the river valley, around the University of Alberta (only to find that the rickety, old, campus house that I rented is gone forever!), through Garneau and the Kinsmen Sports Centre – all the time pointing out places that held significance for me. She patiently padded along beside me and seemed curious about how my past slotted into these surroundings.

marble and grandeur at the 'Ledge'
We also did some learning together by spending an afternoon at the Alberta Legislature building and grounds. We took the free tour of the building and saw some of the pomp and grandeur of an oil-rich Canadian province and learned (amongst other things) that all the marble used in the construction of the building did not come from Europe but from Quebec! Canadian marble – who knew!

We also ventured out through Elk Island National Park (doing a short morning hike and getting to see both Plains- and Wood Buffalo) and on to Vegreville and Mundare.

view from the legislature steps
Lego model of the Alberta Legislature Building
gangsta rabbit graffiti at Sugarloaf in Edmonton
Will we see any creatures?
prime buffalo-spotting seats, courtesy of Parks Canada
Wood Buffalo, close enough to touch (through a fence)
Vegreville's biggest attraction
A proper small-town bakery in Mundare ... WITH PIES!

Monday, September 5, 2016

Lethbridge - 50° 55' 04" N 115° 08' 54" W

The Tour of Alberta is rolling through again and we are along for the ride. This is our third year helping out and we are back with much of the same crew as the previous tour. Fifty marshals are involved, minus a dear friend that left us last year.

Mainly south/central Alberta, the stages were:

Stage 1.  Street circuit in Lethbridge
Stage 2.  Kananaskis to Olds
Stage 3.  Rocky Mountain House to Drayton Valley
Stage 4.  Individual time trial in Edmonton
Stage 5.  Street circuit in Edmonton

Sean has driven the Team Five marshal van for two years running and loves it. There are times when he gets to whiz through the closed course at speeds a fifteen-passenger rental van really should not be driven at … with a police escort.

Super Driver of the Super Van

Van decorating has reached new heights

Traveling Marshal Team 5

Fortunately, not all these signs were needed!

Up close and personal...

Keep those elbows in!

"Look!  Police that aren't angry with me!"

Sean loves peeking into the mechanic's team trailers

Big sky views out on the course

Neutral support