Edmonton Tourist: June’s Deli

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The Gibbard Block in Edmonton’s Highlands reopened in 2019. I didn’t make it to the reopening nor did I get to it later on. However, I did go a couple of weeks ago when it was warmish outside. Doesn’t it look great with the green awnings gone and the new storefronts? This entire two-block section is adorable and I love the quirky shops and food service spots! Today’s mission: June’s Delicatessen.

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This place has everything you expect from a good deli from matzo ball soup to a bagel and lox platter. There is even egg cream on the menu! For Canadian’s who don’t know what that is: an egg cream is essentially a chocolate soda. It is devoid of eggs and cream. But Wikipedia explains the name origins from Stanley Auster, the grandson of the beverage’s alleged inventor, has been quoted as saying that the origins of the name are lost in time. One commonly accepted origin is that egg is a corruption of the German word echt — also found in Yiddish, meaning “genuine” or “real” — and this was a “good cream“. It’s weird and I wanted to try it, but more on that later.

We (the hubs and I) decided to for lunch. Well, he wanted brunch and a benny for some sort and a latte. I took a peek at the on-line menu and landed on a Reuben and an egg cream. We arrived to find this nifty sign.

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Yes, please! There was a bit of a line to go to Fox Burger next door and If I learned anything from Seattle with my sister is, always go to the restaurant with the line. So I will head there next time. But it’s not like June’s was empty. We came as several people were leaving so that freed up a table for us.

 

The first thing I noticed was the cool back and white tile and vintage tin ceiling. The vibe was fun and definitely a pleasant change from the dark and worn out La Boheme.

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We stuck to our game plan and ordered the items that were on the on-line menu. It wasn’t different from what they placed in front of me. The hubs had the Benny and I had the Reuben.

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Mine was delish! I loved the pickles and kraut on the side, the corned beef was lean and delicious. The hubs enjoyed his except he said beef bacon is weird. Fair. I didn’t try it.

Now, normally I enjoy a coffee or a latte. I did neither. I had a chocolate egg cream. My mom warned against them. She had one in New York City and said it tasted like water-downed chocolate milk. Well, that is exactly what it is. Except I loved it. There was a texture from the seltzer water. Seltzer is different from club soda. I don’t know what it is or why it’s different but it is and I loved it. I will forever be an egg cream lover.

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That is a thing of  beauty/

The hubs’ coffee was delicious, exactly what you expect from Ace Coffee Roasters.

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You go to the counter to order and they bring your food out to you or you can go fetch it. either way, it is a lovely relaxed and casual meal and I will be back. In fact, I am bringing my parents when they come home from their European travels. I think my mom will love this place too.

June’s is only open until 4:00 and closed on Mondays.

Get out there and explore your city Edmonton! There are fun and delicious things everywhere.

6427 112 AVE NW | 780-752-5863

TUES-FRI 8AM-4PM | SAT/SUN 9AM-4PM

CLOSED MONDAY | NO RESERVATIONS

 

 

Grief

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I am reading Leaving Time by Jodi Picoult. It’s funny how the things you need know to show up in your life. I didn’t know I needed this and yet here we are. I have read a few of her books, I wouldn’t call myself an avid fan, but I do like some of her work. This novel has a character researching elephants and their grief. One line stuck out for me, “Elephants handle grief better than humans.” It felt like a smack across the head. One of those moments where time slows down and I honed in on that line.

Okay Universe, I am listening.

Recently-ish, a relationship that was very important to me ended. It was okay! I was in a calm peaceful place. Then I wasn’t.  The hubs and I had a conversation. What I am feeling? Is it judgement? Disappointment? Jealousy? Anger? Nope, we figured it out. It is grief. All the stages, all at once.

I am terrible at grief. I am terrible at emotions in general. I cry and then eat those feelings into numbness. When my grandpa died, I acted out in terrible ways because I didn’t let the emotions happen. The loss of important things in my life are typically not handled well. The guidance I have received in the past was ‘stiff upper lip and get on with it’ type of advice. Being an empath, you’d think I’d be good at processing emotions but for me it’s more of a Harry Potter/Dementor type scenario. I can feel life being sucked from me. I can now recognize what I need. Hugs and sympathy from random people are not it. I need boundaries. That includes me expressing my needs and giving in to self-care.

Elephants will stand in solidarity with their family and usually hover over the corpse of their loved one for days, only leaving for food and water. They sit in their feelings. They touch and connect with their loved ones. They cry and feel their emotions. I think I can learn from this.

It takes me a long time to get over something and I think it’s because I don’t let it sit in me. I keep pushing it away and masking it. I don’t want to take five years to get over something. I want to feel the sadness and grief and then eventually look at those memories with fondness. I want to face this head-on.  I can look at memories of my great-grandma and my grandfather with fondness now, but that took a hell of a long time. But it’s only been recent memory that a friendship break-up from five years ago has healed. Does it take that long? Would it have happened sooner if I didn’t numb myself and stick my head in the sand? I think yes.

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I am journaling about this grief because that is my process. I am not a talker. It takes someone asking a lot of questions before I will talk. I always feel lighter after the words are on the page. I can’t be the only one who takes a long time to pass through grief. What is your process?

 

 

Edmonton Tourist: Wabamun Lake Provincial Park

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It was -1C and my first thought was, “I should go for a walk in the woods with Cap”. My second thought was, “Stop looking at Facebook memories.” In 2017 the overnight low was -42C with a windchill of -50C. The house was warm-ish… but the walls and floors were cold. Closing curtains add that extra insulation barrier. This memory sealed the deal. I was going to a provincial park with my boy. I checked the weather at Wabamum and at Miquelon, Wabamum won by 2 degrees.

I hadn’t been to Wabamun Lake Provincial Park since my son was 5 maybe 6. We came to the beach and he loved the train trestle that crossed the water. As a train enthusiast, this was his favourite beach.

I hung out at this lake from the age of 18 to 26. My ex-husband’s family had a cottage at Seba Beach, the west side of the lake and I was a camp counsellor at YoWochAs near Fallis, the Northside of the lake. The provincial park is located on the east side. I learned to paddle and sail on this lake. I also learned to water ski and tried scuba diving. I prefer paddling in the canoe and exploring the freshwater creeks that feed into this lake. I remember listening to a friend telling me he was going to sail to the provincial park and step the mast so he could camp. I had no idea why he needed to do that until he explained about the train trestle. Since that day, every time I see the trestle, I think fondly of him.

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Cap and I arrived to find everything closed. The campground was barricaded, the beach access was closed. The only place open was Group Camp D, or at least the parking lot to group D was open. I parked there along with three other vehicles.

There was more snow here than I anticipated. If I am going to continue to do these types of explorations, I think I need to invest in a pair of snowshoes. The last time I wore snowshoes they looked like this:

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The snow was deep and I think I could benefit from the stability. My sled dog would appreciate them because then going off-trail wouldn’t be such a big deal for me. Alternatively, perhaps a sled would be better! He pulls me up slippery slopes as it is.

From the parking lot, we discovered an ungroomed trail. People had used it for snowshoeing and skiing. Lots of dog tracks so Cap had a lot of investigating to do.

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The trail took us along the northwest shore of the lake. We found lots of animal trails, moose, hare and coyote. The coyote makes Cap skittish and reluctant to go first. He wasn’t as confident as the other trips we take.

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We had to stop a lot, sniff the air and snow and listen for predators. Waiting patiently for him, I noticed the smell of coal. I had forgotten the area smelled like this. They still strip mine south of the lake and Keephills and Sundance plants are still in operation – as a general FYI, Edmonton still gets its electricity from coal. It isn’t as clean as you think. Do any of you remember the smell of coal and straw burning to thaw the ground for construction crews? That is was it smelled like. It was a familiar smell of my youth.

We kept walking thinking I would find beach access, but no luck.

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I also expected to see ice fishing on the lake.  When I came out here in the late ’80s, the lake was covered in fishing tents. Side note: I went into Wabamun and found all the ice fishing tents off the main pier. They just don’t do it the bay because of limited access to the water.

The sun is still low in the sky for a mid-afternoon day, it casts long shadows and sparkles up the snow.

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We walked about 1.5km before Cap stopped and would not go further. Obviously, there were coyotes ahead. So we turned around and he just about pulled my arm off trying to get to the car.

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This is a park that is slammed with campers and beachgoers during the summer season. But if you are a cross-country skier or snowshoe enthusiast, I recommend the quiet peaceful winter to visit. I didn’t come across any picnic sites, but I know there is some closer to the day-use area. Wabamun is about an hour west of Edmonton on hwy 16. It’s also worth checking out Canada’s largest dragonfly located in town because how often can you see big things like this?

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Get out and explore!

Peace

Everyone is talking about their word of the year. A word that can be the theme for them for 2020. Something to aspire to or remind you who you are. Mine is Peace.

Definition of peace

 (Entry 1 of 3)

1a state of tranquillity or quiet: such as
afreedom from civil disturbance peace and order were finally restored in the town.
ba state of security or order within a community provided for by law or custom breach of the peace
2freedom from disquieting or oppressive thoughts or emotions I have been in perfect peace and contentment— J. H. Newman
3harmony in personal relations The sisters are at peace with each other.
4aa state or period of mutual concord between governments There was a peace of 50 years before war broke out again.
ba pact or agreement to end hostilities between those who have been at war or in a state of enmity offered the possibility of a negotiated peace— New York Times
5used interjectionally to ask for silence or calm or as a greeting or farewell

at peace

in a state of concord or tranquillity The problem was settled and his mind was at peace.

 

In my cube, there is a sticky note that says, “You are meant to live in peace”. I look at that when I am angry or frustrated with various scenarios. I sometimes feel rage bubbling up inside me that makes me want to lash out. It happened twice this week. Once in my personal life and once at work. Two separate times an incident happened and I filled with rage – it felt bigger than anger.  I began meditation for this very reason. I needed somewhere to put my anger. I don’t want to feel that way all the time. I took a walk, breathed deeply, and made myself a pot of tea. Both times I repeated “I am meant to live in peace.” and promptly affirmed I am not in control of other’s actions. But… BUT! But!!!!! I am in control of mine.

I need to stop looking at things that frustrate me. I cannot change others, I must accept. Image result for I am meant to live in peace

Face facts Robyn, nothing is going to change because it hasn’t thus far. Accept, move on, live in peace. Release and begin again.

I am meant to live in peace. It sounds like my new Sankalpa.

I am peace.

Happy New year friends. May 2020 bring you peace.

 

 

Edmonton Tourist: Ten Years of Travel

As we move into a brand new decade, I am reflecting on this decade. The last ten years of blogging have pushed me into unexpected places. I love my city but I knew there were places I hadn’t really been to. The more I visited the nooks and crannies of Edmonton, the more I knew I wanted to explore other places the same way. Becoming the Edmonton Tourist had me looking for those hidden gems that are free to explore and left me with delight at new knowledge of other places. My parents gave me the gift of travel and I have been all over the world. After being the Edmonton Tourist, I think I would explore those places differently if I had the chance to go back. As we move into 2020, I reflected on some of the best things I have seen in ten years. I eagerly look forward to exploring more because, to me, there is no better thing to be than a tourist.

2010: Vimy Ridge. I went to Europe with my famjam. We landed in Paris and explored France, Belgium, Holland, and Germany during a nine-day period – it may have been ten days, IDK, it was A LOT. We had a plan but the best part of the trip was the unexpected happenstance of stumbling upon Vimy Ridge. It was a complete accident that changed my life. The art, the unexploded shells, the trenches and the grave markers of boys who were not much older than my own shook me to my core. Thanks Vimy.

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2011: Banff National Park. My son and I went on a camping trip to Banff. Just the two of us. We created memories that we still laugh about. I learned he is more like me than I realized and we both love Johnsons Canyon. It was a pivotal moment for us. It is one of the greatest vacations of all time.  Thanks Banff.Johnston's Canyon - all paths deserve to be walked on

2012: Regina. I learned from my trip with my son that one on one time with your child is important. The next year my daughter and I went to visit my godmother in Regina. This was an epic trip filled with big things like the world’s largest coffee pot and Al Capone’s secret caves of Moose Jaw. But we also went to Dog River. A fictional town on the prairie where they filmed Corner Gas. It was such fun I cannot begin to describe it. Small town Saskatchewan was an unexpected great trip. Thanks Regina.IMG_1648

2013: Calgary. If you know anything about Alberta, you understand the love/hate relationship between Calgary and Edmonton. A bucket list item was to run a race with my dad. The fat girl whose grade seven gym teacher called her lard ass. Whose ex-boyfriend said fat made him lose his chubby. Proving to myself that I could run and run with my dad was a big deal to me. It was his birthday and we took my son to Calgary for the Calgary Marathon weekend. We ran the 10km. The Hubs and my daughter surprised me at the finish line. It was an epic day. I learned that Calgary puts on one of the best races I had ever attended….better than a Disney Race… The crowds were amazing and the sites were beautiful. Exploring a different city on foot was such a gift. Thanks, Calgary.

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Me and Dadeo at the finish

2014: Hawaii. For my son’s graduation, he got to pick a trip. He chose Hawaii. We went to Aulani, Disney’s resort on the west side of Oahu. We had been before when my son was 7 months old. He learned to crawl in Hawaii. I didn’t want to leave the resort. I am not such a big hot beach fan, I love the cold beaches of Tofino, but this place was magical. I loved it. I learned that I am impervious to sunscreen and can listen to the ocean for the rest of my life. The four of us explored every inch of the resort and spent time on top of volcanoes, looking at war memorials, learning about seafood and pineapple allergies but most of all just loved exploring with each other. Thanks Hawaii.

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2015: Big Sur. I was crew for my friend who ran from San Fransico to Anaheim (500 miles) to raise money and awareness for Spinal Muscular Atrophy. It was the loneliest trip of my life, but as with all times of loneliness, the greatest learnings come from that. It was my own pilgrimage of sorts. It was the greatest growth for me. It was the beginning of the end. I shed 500lbs of dead weight and began the long road to creating boundaries. I sat on a rock at Devil’s Slide and watched a pod of humpback whales swim by. It was a spiritual experience and the greatest learning of my life. This was the place where regrets were born, accepted and learned from. I returned to this spot on the way back home with my hubs. I cried for days. I cried all the way home to Canada. The great purge of emotion happened on this trip and I learned who I could trust, and who was loyal. I am grateful to my Hubs for taking such good care of me when I couldn’t care for myself. This place feels sacred. I long to go back. Thanks Big Sur.11921645_1125074180854471_1929081778109239340_n

2016: Vancouver. The year my daughter graduated, her chosen trip was to Vancouver. It is no secret that Vancouver is my favourite city on the planet. She was toying with the idea of going to school here. We did a different kind of trip than we normally do. We visited film sets. Heck, we even crashed a set at the Delta dog park during the filming of the Flash. We drove right on set with the confidence of the film crew. It was only later they asked us who were. We were lost and how the heck do we get out of here? Good times. I learned things about Vancouver I never knew before. What a great place to explore. Thanks Vancouver.

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2017: Tofino. The Hubs and I came here on our honeymoon way back in the early 90’s. In 2017 the Hubs just retired and I was about to start my new career. It had been a tough summer and I was ready for change. He surprised me with a trip to the Wickaninnish Inn on Chesterman Beach in Tofino. I walked straight into the ocean and stood there for an hour or two and just let the waves wash over me and heal me. I cried and let out all kinds of pain, trauma and RELIEF. I was reborn on that beach. It’s corny but true. A baptism of sorts. This remains the greatest vacation of all time. ALL-TIME! It only would have been better by having my kids there. I want them both to get married there and I want to move there. I never want to leave Tofino or Ucluelet again. When I win the lottery Friday night, Saturday morning I am packing and moving there. At least I will have a seasonal home there and a place here in Edmonton because I love Edmonton too. The ocean, the rainforest, the raven and the wolves are something special to me. I love this place. Thanks Tofino.

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2018: Vancouver Island. I loved 2017 so much, I needed to go back. This time I was healthier and could do more. 2017 was what my daughter refers to as the time I died. I didn’t but I was close to it. My kidneys stopped working and let me just say, I don’t recommend organ failure. It was a long road back, by the time I made it back to the west coast, I was ready to explore every nook and cranny. We hiked rainforest trails, explored the lighthouse, ate amazing things, went to a carving shed to meet an artist, met a gal who moved from Edmonton in the ’70s and never went back. This time we went in a boat to explore the ocean as well. We saw eagles, sea lions, harbour seals and orcas. ORCAS! Damn, I love you Tofino.

2019: Jasper. Secret Season is the best. My daughter’s 21 birthday was spent at Disneyland. It took up most of my money. The hubs and I wanted a vacation so we booked off-season at the Jasper Park Lodge and saw things I hadn’t seen before. Winter in Jasper before ski season is THE BEST EVER! We saw wildlife and zero people, except for that couple from New York City who was shocked I was wearing a sweater and no parka. Winter in Alberta is different than in New York. What I think is warm is apparently FREEZING in NYC. Big babies… Seriously though, make the trip for the wildlife and the scenery and the quiet because it is worth every second. Thanks Jasper.

img_4557 2020: The Unknown. I think I will go to Kamloops for a spiritual conference at the Akashic Ranch in June. But I might go to Sedona and explore vortexes or Santa Fe for the Balloon Festival. I might wander down to Waterton National Park or take my kids back to Aulani, maybe we will go to Disneyland and visit Galaxy’s Edge or just stay at home. I don’t know. But I do know I will be exploring more provincial parks, hanging out in my river valley and poking around new restaurants and maybe take in a festival or two. 2010-2019 showed me a lot of amazing things. I am positive the next 10 years will show me more.

Get out and explore, you won’t regret it.

Ten

People apologize to me a lot. It’s weird. I think it’s because they tell me they are doing something then they don’t. I respond with a variation of “The choices we make…” I am not their mom, maid or approver of things. Your choice, your decision. Every action up until this moment was a choice and a decision. Now you either suffer the consequences or reap the benefits.

Ten years ago – ish (August 15, 2010) I started this blog. I had hit bottom. I didn’t like me. I wanted to change. I was unhappy. I hated my job. I hated how I let people make choices for me. I hated living the consequence of those actions. I loved being a tourist. I loved trying new things on vacation. I loved exploring new things on vacation. I simply loved vacations. It occurred to me that I should look at my life through the eyes of a tourist. I decided to take risks, try new things, say yes more than no and make decisions based on what felt right for me. It was my life and I was going to take back control.

So I did.

I blogged about most of them. I needed a way to hold myself accountable but what I didn’t yet understand was the act of writing showed me what I was thinking. Some of you have been with me since the beginning. Thanks for that. Some of you have left and new people have found me along the way. Thanks for that too. This is the end of a decade of self-exploration. The past 10 years helped me reconciled what happened and opened my eyes to what I can see now.

  1. I learned that I needed to know who I am. No one knows better than me. People think they know me but they don’t. I am me. I know what I like and I know what I don’t like.
  2. I like honesty. There is nothing so terrible that it can’t be fixed or at least accepted. Be honest and tell the truth. Ask for help and be gracious about it.
  3. I like gratitude. When someone does something for you, say thank you. Whether its a gift or a gesture. Say thank you. When you experience something so profound and have no words, say thank you. When you experience something so horrible you have no words, say thank you. Good and bad both teach you something. Always be grateful.
  4. I like loyalty. In my eyes, there is no greater expression of love than loyalty. You know if I am loyal to you. You also know if I don’t trust you. There are only a handful of people I am loyal to, the rest remains to be seen and the few on the outside have been removed from my circle. This ties back to knowing who I am.
  5. Which leads me to boundaries. I used to be a people pleaser. Desperately seeking love and acceptance. I love and respect me now. I have set clear boundaries and have no problem with NO. This is a fairly recent discovery. I needed to learn the other four things before I got here. Boundaries are the key to my happiness. Boundaries complete the circle of knowing who I am. So who I am?

I am empathetic, kind and smart. I know what I like and what I don’t. I am open to trying new things and I am loyal to my people. It has taken me 10 years to get here. I sometimes feel like I should regret things. Instead, I am grateful for the learnings. I no longer fear people who were cruel to me. I no longer fear being alone. I no longer fear anything really… except birds. I think I will always have an irrational fear of birds, but only those tiny birds like sparrows. Although I do like watching birds – from a safe distance. I don’t want them pecking out my eyeball, if you want to be close, that’s on you.  Yet I have a strange love for the raven. The raven symbolizes prophecy and insight. His intelligence helps him figure out solutions. We are kindred spirits. My favourite place to be is on a red chair on the west coast listening to the raven speak to me.

After reflection and examining my life, I know my actions created consequences and benefits. I wanted things to be different but I cannot change them, so I have accepted things instead. Stop saying sorry to me. I am not the keeper of forgiveness, only you are. Just like I am the only one who can forgive me.

I am moving forward into 2020 with 20/20 vision. I finally feel free.

Big Bird

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I woke up sad today. It wasn’t because I went to a party last night, nor was it because I had a nice day yesterday. All those are good things, no sadness required. After my meditation I got up made breakfast sat down to read the news and learned Big Bird died today. My daughter said, “I’m so sorry.” and that made me cry.

This summer Caroll Spinney, the original puppeteer for Big Bird and Oscar the Grouch, announced he would not be attending any more fan expos. That was sad but understandable, the man was 86, he deserved some alone time with his wife. I reached out to him and thanked him for being there every day for me as a kid and every day for my kids. I loved Big Bird and Oscar and told him so. Not that he likely didn’t hear it every day, but he wrote me back.

Let’s pause for a moment.

CAROLL SPINNEY WROTE ME BACK.

He told me how much he appreciated the kind words and how much it meant to him when his fans said thank you. He then invited me to join his private group for fans. I was honoured. I lost my mind for about a day, but then I was back to normal just admiring the artistry of his skills. He was a master of puppetry, improv, acting, singing and was an artist/illustrator. His work touched me deeply. Related image

Spinney originated Big Bird and Oscar fifty years ago, November 10, 1969. I was two. They have been apart of my entire life. I shared my love of muppets with my kids and one day will share them with my grandkids. I remember Oscar was orange before he was green and Big Bird was 5. Apparently, Big Bird is now six.

I loved the giant size of his nest and his imaginary friend Snuffy. I also had an imaginary friend, her name was Lucy. Only Big Bird and I knew Snuffy wasn’t imaginary, neither was Lucy, but the adults in our life never believed us. This made us get each other on a level I didn’t reach with other muppets. Big Bird was special, just like me.

Big Bird, Super Grover, and Kermit were the big three for me. Grover is the last one left. Each of them made me feel as if I was important. Little five year old me that wore a cape and had imaginary friends who were real. I was included in the ragtag bunch because they embraced diversity and uniqueness. Everyone was welcome. I wish I could say that I was welcome with everyone in real life, but I can’t. I was often on the outs because of my looks, my ideas and my interests. I still have to deal with cliques, mean girls and mean boys at the age of 52. For crying out loud… people are just unbelievable in their actions and behaviour. I suppose that’s why I love the Muppets so much. Everyone was welcome and everyone was recognized for their uniqueness. They practiced kindness. This isn’t a hard concept. BE KIND.

I am grateful to Caroll Spinney, Frank Oz, Jerry Nelson, Richard Hunt, Fran Brill and Jim Henson. Grover and Prairie Dawn are the only ones left. I am happy I was fortunate enough to have had Seasame Street as a large part of my life. As a Tribute to Caroll Spinney, they are asking for donations to be made to the Yellow Feather Fund. They support giving kids a healthy start, think of it as Seasame Street in communities.

At least original Snuffy and Big Brid are together again.

Caroll Spinney 1933 – 2019.

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Edmonton Tourist: Jasper Park Lodge

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Last week I told you about my little getaway during secret season at Jasper National Park. We decided to make it a resort getaway, so we booked two nights at the Fairmont Jasper Park Lodge. This is the place where the Duke and Duchess of Sussex stayed for their honeymoon. The Jasper Park Lodge opened as a tent city in 1915 then eventually was taken over by Canadian Pacific Railway and became one of the great railway hotels of Canada. If you have stayed at any of the other Fairmonts in Canada, you know what I mean. It is high end and exquisite. I had been here before for a quilt workshop and my hubs and I came for a weekend getaway 25 years ago, but I had not been here since.

I booked through the AMA website and found a deal, and I mean DEAL for $200 a night. Worth noting – this is not a sponsored post. That is a typical night stay in town in a regular hotel. Offseason midweek makes a big difference plus being an AMA member sure helps. It’s worth it to keep your eye on deals.

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We checked in late on a Wednesday afternoon. Earlier that morning the hotel texted to welcome me and asked why I was coming. I let them know it was a nice getaway for us since we hadn’t been in 25 years. They asked if there was anything they could do for me, and I said no. I did consider bringing Cap, with a pet fee of $50 per night, I thought against it. If my kids were with us then I would have brought my pal. When we checked in we were immediately upgraded to a cottage on the lake. Here was the view from the living room – that’s right I said living room.

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Lac Beauvert was frozen without snow so in a few weeks there will be some good skating going on! The room was large with a king bed and the sofa was a pull-out. Down the hall were a coffee bar and fridge. There was a large double-wide closet with robes, slippers, and an umbrella.

The first thing we did was take a walk along the lake. To go around the lake takes about 45 minutes, we made it about halfway before it became too dark to walk in the woods in wolf country. The smell of pine in the air is an instant stress reliever for me. Honestly, I don’t know what I prefer more, the mountains or the ocean. The high-end cottages, where Royalty stays, were all decked out with Christmas lights. They were so pretty through the trees.

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The big cottage sleeps ten (I think) and has a full kitchen, fireplace, study, dining room and three bathrooms. Everyone gets a bedroom. I want to book this one year for my family at Christmas. The hotel will put up a tree and we can either have Christmas dinner catered in the cottage or we can cook it. One day… its a bucket list item for sure. This is the Royal one. Very secluded and quiet on the point.

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You walk down from the cottage and can sit on the cute bench, I guessed the royals sat here at least once.

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We walked back to our cottage and I thought about how lovely this was. Very few people were around.

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We made a cup of tea and I pulled out my knitting. It was quiet and peaceful, a perfect ending to the day. Eventually, we made our way to the main lodge for a bite to eat. Since we ate a big lunch at Jasper Brewing Company, it was late before we decided on cocktails and nibblies. We walked the 5 minutes to the lodge and went up to the Emerald Lounge. I looked at the menu and thought hard about creating my own Old Fashion. Look at the choices!

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In the end, after all the big talk of wanting a cocktail, I had a glass of shiraz and the hubs had a Jasper Ale. We ordered the charcuterie board, it had interesting things on there like elk sausage and other game meats, cheeses fruit and nuts. We decided to share dessert and landed on the rhubarb sorbet and lemon mascarpone mousse. It was so good, we ordered another the next night.

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We poked around the lodge before heading back to our room. Christmas in November happened the week before so the decorations were up. After hearing all about it, I put that on my bucket list for another year. Perhaps I can convince my mom to postpone her trip to Europe next year and I will take her for a treat.

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The gingerbread house filled the lobby with the aroma of cinnamon and ginger. I am considering making one for my office and keeping it up all year round.

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I only need 440 lbs of flour. Shouldn’t be too much of a problem, I can make it in batches.

Stanley the house labrador dog was off duty when we stopped by. I didn’t get to see him at all over the stay, he was either walking or resting.

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The walk back to the cottage was surprisingly bright. The full moon lit up the mountain range.

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This was the same shot the next morning.

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We woke up early, and by early I mean we stumbled in for breakfast about 9:00 am. and ate at Orso Trattoria. The only problem with the secret season is the limited availability for dining options. However, the breakfast was good with a view that was only rivalled by my breakfast view at Wickaninnish in Tofino.

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You are looking at Edith Cavell. That tiny dot on top of the mountain is the Jasper Sky Tram. You can go up there and see for days (but only in the summer season).

After our day of site seeing, we came back to this:

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I guess they thought 25 years meant anniversary? It was so thoughtful and delightful! The raspberry macaron was the best one. They were super fresh. The champagne went in my bag for New Years!

We headed back to the Emerald lounge for snackies, we didn’t have the strength to drive into Jasper  – buy that I mean, I didn’t feel like calling for the car because there wasn’t anywhere to self-park, they do it for you. I loved the ritual of walking to the lodge for meals. Especially in the full moonlight.

The next morning we repeated the same breakfast plan. Each meal we took the time to get to know the servers. Most of the staff come from Austalia or Ontario. The Alberta kids think the Rockies are old hat, so they travel farther west to surf and work at the Wick. The staff live on the property and are amazed at their view every morning. I regret not coming to Jasper after college. I thought about it but never did. In my next life, I am totally doing that!

We took a walk around the property before we headed back to pack.

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The pool is open all year round. It’s heated obviously and you swim through a tunnel from the indoor pool. It was 32F that morning with one brave dude swimming and taking in the view.  Its fine until your hair gets wet. We continued walking towards the boathouse.img_4513

If you are looking for peace, I recommend a few days here. Jasper National Park is a world-class destination, rich in history and wildlife. If you have been before, you know what I mean. If you have never been, come. If you see me poking around, come say hi.

 

Brothers

M4

Not everyone has a brother, but everyone knows someone with a brother. I have one brother, grew up with a couple of foster brothers and I have friends who I feel as if they were brothers. A brother relationship is much different from my sister relationship. I don’t think it has anything to do with gender, it has everything to do with personality and preferences.

My brother has been my nemesis, my partner, my adversary and standard that I judge by (I know judging isn’t preferable, but we all do it.). But mostly my brother has been my friend, the kind of friend I don’t talk to every day, but when I need to I can call. He always calls me right back. He is turning 50 in 19 days.

50

Why is it that I am okay with me being 52 but it bothers me that my baby brother is 50? I think of him as the little kid that was into everything. My grandmother called him busy and that was an understatement.  My brother was busy x 10. But I sure did learn a lot from him. He would dehydrate frogs in his jean pockets and then stick them in water. It would take a bit, but those frogs always perked up and he would take them back to the pond. At the age of 9, he quietly sent part of his allowance every month to the Humane Society. We discovered this by the monthly subscription newsletter and thank you cards. He had our little sister on the back of his bike and he couldn’t figure out why it was so hard to pedal. Her leg was caught in the spokes and it broke – the leg, she was 3(?) maybe older? He abandoned his beloved bike and carried her home. He was always rescuing birds, dogs, cats and people. His room was a pet sanctuary filled with rabbits, guinea pigs, hamsters, fish and dogs. It smelled like a farm.

M2

He is a lot of things. He has no time for fiction, except Star Trek – but I think he thinks it’s a documentary.  It has to be true or it’s wasting his time. This includes liars and fake people. He is fiercely protective of family and friends. He never complains about anything that happens to him or the cards life has dealt him. He doesn’t let what other people say or do bother him. Life is too short to get involved with drama and it has to be his biggest pet peeve. He wants everyone to just get along.

M3

I am fiercely loyal back. I will always choose him.

This guy hates homemade food. Make him homemade cookies, and he rather have store-bought. Make him bbq burgers and he rather have fast food. This guy loves going out to eat so it surprised me when he said I make the best shortbread he has ever had. I am flattered. For his birthday I will make him 50 shortbread cookies. My recipe is here. He will likely hide them under the sofa cushions with a dirty sock on the bag to protect it. He will snack on these during Star Trek Discovery in case anyone wants one.

Happy 50th Birthday Brother, I could have asked for a better one… but you’ll do.