Week of July 4, 2004

July 4, 2004 08:59 – 08:59

Saturday, July 10, 2004

Bemidji, Minnesota 9:54 CDT

We’re at the Hampton Inn, overlooking Lake Bemidji. Bemidji High School is having their 30 year reunion here. Thank goodness we’re on the top floor.

Before leaving Winnipeg, we went to The Forks market. It’s like Quincy Market and Lexington Market (in Boston & Baltimore, respectively). It’s not nearly as extensive as I’d been led to believe from the write-ups, but there were a number of shops specializing in local crafts. We had lunch there. Not too bad… Katie & I had fish & chips (the haddock is decidedly better than the cod), and Karen had a perogi and a sausage.

In Bemidji, there are large statues of Paul Bunyan and Babe the Blue Ox. Paul isn’t nearly as big as his Bangor, Maine counterpart. But, Bangor doesn’t have a Babe. So, I guess it all evens out.

Tomorrow, we head east towards Wisconsin and Michigan. Later.

Friday, July 9th, 2004, 11:21

Back in the central time zone. Car lag is going to get worse.

We’re in Winnipeg. Haven’t done any sightseeing yet. Started to have dinner at some place called Kelsey’s, but it was incredibly noisy. So, we went next door to Montana’s, which was quieter, but the service was inept. However, since the waitress screwed up my order, the manager took it off the bill.. so, that helped.

I had ordered the rib sampler, so I could try all three kinds. Alas, they brought just the beef with the house sauce. It was good, albeit wrong.

Tomorrow, we’ll see some local sights, then head southeast to Minnesota.

Today in the car we finished listening to Striptease, by Carl Hiaisson (however the heck it’s spelled). Carl believes strongly in poetic justice, and creates epilogs specifically for the purpose of making sure everyone gets what’s coming to them — good and bad. It doesn’t leave you “wanting” the way some other books do.

Friday, July 9th, 2004, 8:54 am

We’re in Regina, Saskatchewan. We don’t have internet access to speak of, so I’ll paste this into Xanga later. Last night, we went for a tour of Parliament. Regina is the provincial capital. Sask has 58 legislative districts, and it’s pretty well balanced: 30 labor and 28 conservative. Burning issues include gay marriage, beef exports (mad cow disease concerns) and the like.

We also went to the MacKinzie Art Gallery, which had some exceedingly odd exhibits. One of the less odd exhibits featured near photo quality paintings depicting gas stations and supermarket storefronts from years gone by… a good way to assess the then-current prices of bananas and gasoline.

The oddest exhibit was something called “Making it like a man” which, among other things, featured a whole wall of Arnold Schwarzenegger works (about, not by). Another was a photo exhibit called “Hell” which featured pictures from places that have hell, devil, diablo, etc. in their names.

Today, we head east southeast towards Winnipeg, entering the central time zone. It’s been hard enough getting up at 8:15. Now, we’ll need to try to reset our body clocks even more. Then tomorrow, we go back into the U.S., destined for Duluth, Minnesota.

Thursday, July 7th, 11:16 pm

Boston Pizza for dinner… not bad, but not great. Not up to Boston’s usual standards.

Will it EVER stop raining?

Looks like it’ll relent for a while tonight, but then resume after that. <sigh>

Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, 6:01 pm (Mountain Daylight Time)

Saskatoon is about 328 miles east south east of Edmonton. It’s a quaint little place.

On the road, it rained most of today. However, we did manage to stop and see the largest Easter egg (one of those Ukranian things) in the world. It’s in Vegreville, Alberta.

We also stopped at a KFC in Lloydsville. It’s either in Saskatchewan or Alberta, depending on where you stand. The main road running down the middle of Lloydsville is the provincial border between the two.

Tonight is laundry night. So, we’ve decided to order Boston Pizza for delivery, and watch a movie on the VCR-Intolerable Cruelty, with George Clooney and Catherine Zeta Jones.

Tonight, we’re at Country Inn & Suites. This one has free high-speed internet access. I’m using wireless access. It seems to work very well.

More, later…

Tuesday, 10:02 PM

Today, Katie & I went to the Odysseum, which is a large hands-on science museum in Edmonton, Alberta. It has the usual cadre of exhibits aimed at kids, an IMAX theatre, a ham radio station (VE6SSC… we stopped and chatted for a short while), and a puzzle room. It was fun and tiring.

After that, we went back to the Best Western Cedar Park Inn and picked up Karen, and went to the Vancouver Art Museum. It had some very intriguing exhibits, including something called Thriller. Thriller featured a number of interactive/active exhibits designed to produce chills.

After that, we drove by the parliament houses, then went to finish the West Edmonton Mall. After malling, we went to a Mexican restaurant called Julio’s Barrio.

Snapshot review: don’t go there.

The chips were Frito/Dorito quality, heavily salted and served straight from the bag. They were awful.

I had the beef chimichanga. It was passable, but just barely. Katie had the chicken burrito (at least we think
it was chicken… we’re still not sure), and Karen had the taco salad (it was heavily drenched in Italian salad dressing, and missing its meat).

The service was slow and not terribly good. It’s unlikely that the wait staff (very English Canadian) could locate Latin America on a map.

Julio’s Barrio is a chain, and I suppose it’s possible that we just happened upon a bad one. Unless I were really desperate for Mexican food (which happens surprisingly often), I don’t think I’d give them another chance. But, you never know.

After that, Katie & I went to a huge place called “the real Superstore”. We bought a small ice chest and water kettle. Katie thinks it’s like a super Wal-Mart (all the W-M usuals, plus groceries), but a bit more up-scale. Personally, I find it very similar to the hypermarches in France, and Meijer Thrifty Acres, which mostly inhabit Michigan.

Tomorrow, it’s onward to Saskatchewan.

Ciao.

Tuesday, July 06, 2004

11:16 pm, Monday, July 5th

We revisited the West Edmonton Mall. It’s the largest in the world. Yet, they have duplicate stores there, soone wonders… Much of the size is due to things like a full water park, ice rink, live theatres stages, at least two hotels, etc. So, while it’s big, much of the bigness isn’t really usable to the average shopper.

We also bopped into a used book store, looking forth Double Helix. No luck. I guess we’ll need to order it from Amazon or some such.

We had dinner at the Chianti restaurant. It was wonderful–and cheap, too. Their house draft, something called Grasshopper, wasn’t half bad, either. It tasted a bit like Peroni… only without the bug spray aftertaste.

Tomorrow, we’ll likely see the rest of the mall, visit hands-on science museum, see some art, etc. Later.

Monday, July 05, 2004

Monday, July 5th

We’re in Edmonton, Alberta… internet access for $9.95/day (that’s Canadian, so it’s about $8/day USD). We saw moose & mountain sheep coming through Jasper National Park today. Stopped at a god-awful Chinese buffet in Hinton, Alberta. The main dishes were all way too vinegary, although the spring rolls were very good Vietnamese rolls (no Vietnamese salsa, unfortunately) and the chicken wings weren’t bad. It’s on the eastern end of Hinton, and is something like China Royal Buffet. Don’t eat there. Go to Boston Pizza, instead.

Sunday, July 4, 2004

Written in Jasper, Alberta. Unfortunately, we don’t have internet access, so I’m writing this in Word. I’ll paste it into Xanga the next time we get access. Hopefully, that’ll be in Edmonton, tomorrow night.

Saturday, before we left Vancouver, we went to Vandusen Gardens. It’s quite beautiful. Among other things, there are some rather odd looking sculptures (pix soon), and lots of jet black squirrels. The first time I saw black squirrels was in Michigan in graduate school. At the time, I read that they’re a bit less domesticated than gray squirrels, and tend to dominate when they enter an area. Just 20 years earlier, East Lansing had only gray squirrels. By the time we got there in 1973, there were only black squirrels. Then, in the early 1980s, I noticed black squirrels in my sister’s neighborhood. 20 years later, however, the grays still predominate. Maybe climate is a factor, as well.

After Vandusen, we had lunch at the Salmon House on the Hill restaurant. We’d eaten there before. Karen & I both had the mixed grill special, which comprised alder smoked salmon, some kind of tender beef, and skewered scallops. Katie had Caesar salad and the seafood chowder.

For me, the best part of the meal, however, was this stuff called sea asparagus. It’s about the diameter of spaghetti. Available only two months out of the year, it grows in the Pacific northwest. While I don’t care for regular asparagus, this stuff was terrific. The rest of the meal was good, too.

Another interesting addition was the bread. I think it was topped with asiago cheese., which added an extra dimension to the crust. The Caesar salads were top notch, and used their special bread to make the croutons. If you’re ever in the Vancouver area… go there.

Last night, we were in Cache Creek, British Columbia, at a little motel called the Bonaparte. It was a two-room unit with a kitchenette. Even so, we had dinner at the local DQ. I had the chicken Caesar salad, which was pretty good, although the chicken tasted a bit like asphalt smells.

On the way from Vancouver to Cache Creek, we stopped at this huge mountainside, called Chief something (I’ll look it up later) which is the largest granite face in North America. It was HUGE. And… there actually were idiots climbing it! Straight up this sheer vertical wall, with no ropes above them. Through the binoculars, they looked smaller than ants. I sure hope nobody fell.

En route to Jasper, Katie was feeling Squamish (I’ll let Katie explain that), so we stopped at a CostCo in Kamloops for “lunch”. It was about noon, and there were numerous free samples set up. We partook with wild abandon. Karen & I pretty much satisfied out luncheal desires, while Katie was still hungry. So, she got a little something from the snack bar. After brief stops for sundries from Safeway and gasoline (anywhere from 76.9 to 96.9 per litre so far), we were then on our way to Jasper.

As I’m writing this, we’re in Jasper, Alberta, staying in the Tonquin Inn. It’s very cute. We’re in an L shaped room with four “twin” beds. They’re called twin, but they appear to be more like captain size. Looking out the windows, we can see snow-covered mountains. Tomorrow, we’ll explore a bit as we head east to Edmonton. Tonight, it likely will be in the 30s or 40s. It’s already in the low 50s at 10:30 pm as I’m writing this. By the way… Sunset here is at 10:19 pm tonight.

The inn has an attached restaurant called The Prime Rib. Karen & I had prime rib, and Katie had the New Orleans chicken. To drink, Karen & I each had a pint of Nova Scotian pale ale (Alexander Keith’s India Pale Ale: it was a bit weak for my tastes, slightly stronger than Molson, but not much). My prime rib was slightly over-cooked (I asked for medium), but it was quite good. The green beans were cooked with onions, red peppers and tomatoes. While I liked it, Katie didn’t. Karen scraped off the red bits and ate them.

Enough for now. Ciao blog.

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