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Posts Tagged ‘world travel’

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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memories of wally

In 1955, a group of 55 avid Airstream owners—mostly friends of founder Wally—became charter members of the Wally Byam Caravan Club. During that year, the largest Airstream caravan in history was launched to Mexico.

Ralph’s Norwegian grandmother Odne and her husband George were part of the historic WBCCI Western Mexico Winter Caravan of ’55. During our visit to Detroit Lakes, Ralph’s mother—Odne’s daughter—dug through a box of keepsakes and produced Odne’s journals about the trip that winter, handwritten in notebooks she purchased along the way.

Update the cultural references and much of her chronicle could be written about an Airstream caravan in 2010 (though hopefully highway conditions have improved by today).

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morocco

No Airstream…just memories of Marrakech.

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andelucia

Remember back in the day when couples would force other couples to endure the slides of their trip to Europe? Please to sit back relax and enjoy Spain and Marrakech, sans dogs and DWR.

Wally Byam would have been disappointed to learn we left the Airstream at home.

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