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Archive for the ‘canada’ Category

world’s largest

Spend any time at all on the American highway and you’ll see one: the world’s largest [fill in the blank].

The Frazee, Minnesota turkey. The Vergas, Minnesota loon. (Giant fowl are popular in MInnesota). The Medicine Hat Teepee in Alberta, Canada. The list is endless; their aficionados, legion.

If you have a very long Airstream you’ll have trouble turning it around—especially if other gawkers pull in behind you—at the site of Salem Sue, the World’s Largest Holstein Cow, who makes her home at the top of a steep hill in North Dakota.

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lake louise

“Profond, froid et magnifique” (that’s on a plaque), Lake Louise in Banff National Park is thrilling and unspoiled. Tourist guides claim that as a protected World Heritage Site, the vistas that greet visitors today are virtually the same as those that Swiss explorers experienced more than a century ago, and I believe it. The present day village mini-mall with its high end grocery, sports shop and artsy fartsy gift store now only adds to the ambiance.

After driving through the monotonous prairie to the south, the abrupt appearance of the colossal Canadian Rockies can take your breath away.

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mountie museum

Traveling to Regina? (What an embarrassing name for a city. Like that Seinfeld episode. “Mulva?”) Don’t miss the contemporary Royal Canadian Mounted Police Heritage Centre in Saskatchewan where you’ll learn about the formation of the original 300 Mounties in 1873, what the RCMP is up to today (with a force of nearly 5000), and how you’d look as a Mountie in that smashing scarlet tunic and Dudley Do-Right hat.

Back to back theme rooms explore aspects of RCMP history including their presence during the Klondike Gold Rush (when the worldwide image of the Mountie was formed).

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artillery museum

“Experience History With A Bang at Canada’s National Artillery Museum in the Central Museum of the Royal Regiment of Canadian Artillery at Canadian Forces Base Shilo”. That’s a mouthful to put on a road sign but we didn’t need to read it; Ralph scoped out the RCA Museum early on and we made a crooked beeline for it when we passed through Manitoba.

I couldn’t have less interest in war lore, but through Ralph I’ve grown to appreciate military museums as an alternative way to connect with the regions we visit. They often house peculiar items found nowhere else and present a different perspective than the usual insipid pioneer museum.

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devils punch bowl

Joining the “Most Overrated Attraction” list, Devils Punch Bowl is described in the Spruce Woods guide as thus: “Sand slips and slides down a bowl-shaped depression 45 metres deep and disappears into an ever-moving, eerie pool of blue-green water.” Worth a two-hour hike in the hot sun, right?

After a long uphill slog on sandy soil, we reached an elaborate footbridge and a platform overlooking…some trees. Ralph actually hiked back to the trail marker to make sure we had come to the right place.

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o canada

For those entering Canada from North Dakota: take heed. There will be no gas on the way. We coasted on fumes into Pembina, the last chance for everything before the border crossing at Emerson where the passport guy grilled us with a lot of intrusive trick questions about our personal lives (“How did you two meet?”) and our reasons for visiting. We were already pitting out over the pack of fresh pork chops we were bent on smuggling in and watched in horror as two motorhomes ahead were pulled into secondary and boarded by customs officials.

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