Key West – Day 3

Posted by Bob on Friday, November 5th, 2010

Outside view of the Truman White House

At last the sun was out most of the day!  However, a cold wave arrived (60’s and low 70’s) – very comfortable.

A favorite place for me to visit is the Truman White House.  I have toured there three previous times but learn something each time.  No pictures are allowed inside due to Secret Service rules.  The facility is still used by  high government officials, the most recent Hilliary Clinton.

Bo’s Fish Wagon (801 Caroline St.)  and Kelly’s (301 Whitehead St.) are two favorite places to eat.

A visit to the Key West Butterfly House is a great way to relax and sense the marvels of nature.

Though it was sunny much of the day, just before sunset the clouds arrived.  However, a few clouds did not hamper the festivities.  Key West is an ongoing party.

Almost a perfect sunset but still beautiful

Tomorrow, we head north to Pompano Beach.

Key West – Day 2

Posted by Bob on Thursday, November 4th, 2010

Frontage of the Hemingway Home

Again, the day started with pouring rain.  But by the time we were ready to board the shuttle for town, it had stopped and didn’t resume until evening.  In short, we were able to spend an enjoyable day in historic Key West.

When staying in Key West, there are basically two housing options.  There are a number of B/B’s and steeply priced boutique hotels in the historic area, or you can stay at a hotel several miles out and take the host provided shuttle into town.  For the last two visits, we have chosen the second options.  This time we are staying at the Doubletree.  Shuttle service is provided on the hour.  Thus, you don’t worry about trying to find parking in the historic area, which is extremely difficult.

To obtain an overview of the city, I highly recommend taking the Conch Train (actually a series of wagons pulled by a motorized looking steam engine) or the Old Town Trolley.  The second, my first choice, allows you to get on and off at twelve different stops.  Between stops, full tourist and historic narration is provide.  The drivers also provide a lot of comic relief!

Today, I again paid a visit to the historic Hemingway Home.  Hemingway spent a number of years in Key West and is still fondly remembered.  While here he wrote The Old Man and the Sea.  Pauline, one of his four official wives, lived here until her death in the early 1950’s.  This was my fourth visit to the home and learn something new each time.

Of course, no visit to the capital of the Conch Republic  (In 1982, Key West declared as a tongue-in-cheek protest secession motivated by a U.S. Border Patrol roadblock and checkpoint which greatly inconvenienced residents and was detrimental to tourism in the area.) without a nightly visit to watch the sunset (thus, far only clouds) and very talented street performers at Mallory Square.

More tomorrow on the Southern White House and this fascinating city.

Juggler on Mallory Square (later juggled while on the high wire)

Traveling Key Largo to Key West

Posted by Bob on Wednesday, November 3rd, 2010

Part of the bike path that runs along U.S. 1

Rain and more rain started the day.  However, as we prepared to load the car, the rain stopped, and we were off.  Dark clouds appeared, faded, and reappeared.  The rains held off until just outside of Key West.  The weather cooperated so that we were able to make some key stops and enjoy the 90 mile trip down.

The Florida Keys consist of 882 islands.  Over 42 bridges connect the island on this picturesque highway.  In my opinion, there are a number of must stops for the first time visitors.  I added a new one on this trip, purchasing and devouring a piece of key lime pie at

Server Michelle delivering Key Lime pie to a customer at Ma's

Ma’s Fish Camp (105 Palm Ave., Islamorada – MM 81.5).  One of my resources stated that Ma baked the best key lime pie, bar none.  After tasting this delectable creation, I could not agree more.

One of the hundreds of birds at the Center

The Florida Keys Wild Bird Rehabilitation Center (MM 93.6) is one of those must stops if you enjoy observing birds native to the area.  If possible, try to be there at the daily 3:30 feeding.  There is no charge – donations requested.

Enjoy watching and feeding the tarpons at Robbie’s (MM 77.5).  The cost is $1 to watch and $3 to buy a bucket of fish to feed these ravenous creatures.

Enjoying a stroll at Bahia Honda State Park

Bahia Honda State Park has a beautiful beach.  The water is shallow and the sand soft to cool your aching feet.  It is also filled with history.  A portion of Fagler’s bridge remains.  A fascinating story!

A fun place for lunch is the No Name Pub on Pine Key (MM 30.2)  Over a 110,000 one dollar bills hang on the walls and ceiling.  A word of caution: expect the service to be slow.  On the way there you might see a Key deer, a very small version of a whitetail deer.  (It is a protected species.)  After three trips, I was lucky enough to spot two on the way to the pub.

Some of the $110,00+ at the No Name Pub

The small Key deer

The rains are a pouring outside (9:55 PM).  Hopefully, tomorrow will be clear.

Key Largo

Posted by Bob on Tuesday, November 2nd, 2010

Florida Bay (Gulf side) of the Key

We knew we had arrived in Florida when we stepped out into the 88 degree heat.  It felt great!

From Ft. Lauderdale airport, depending on traffic and your inclination, you make your decisions as to the routes you want to follow.  I like to avoid the heavy traffic of Miami so I head west and then south.  About 2 hours latter you arrive at the first major key, Key Largo.  Like many of the communities in the Keys, tourism is a major source of income for its citizens.  It also boasts some of the most fascinating botanical scenery in the state.  Locals consider their home the Diving Capital of the World but the island is nearly as famous as a sport-fishing destination.

A great place to dine to begin your bohemian immersion into the Keys is

Pilot House Marina Restaurant (Key Largo)

to have dinner at the Pilot House Marina Restaurant on 13 Seagate Blvd.  You may need to ask directions.   You will see many locals there listening to the nightly Bluegrass entertainment.  Portions of the bar area are constructed of plexiglas so you can observe the fish swimming below while dining on the fresh catch on your plate.

Tomorrow, we head to Key West.

Headed to Key West via Ft. Lauderdale

Posted by Bob on Monday, November 1st, 2010

Bridge after bridge on HWY 1 to Key West (taken last trip)

I am headed on another poetry, travel, and photography venture.  We are returning to a favorite destination, the Keys.  A chilly bite has become part of the Ohio air, after all it is November.  I expect a much warmer clime as we head south.  My sister-in-law and her husband will be part of this adventure.  This is their first trip to the area so I am looking forward to introducing them to some of its joys an intricacies.  Please travel with me.  Be sure to offer some feedback so I know at least one or two of you are following along …:-)

I am currently at an airport hotel due to the fact of an early flight.  Barring unforeseen, the next blog will be from Key Largo.

Peace and joy,

Bob Continue Reading

Day 7: Lake Minnewanka and Last Day

Posted by Bob on Thursday, August 26th, 2010

Looking from the garden toward downtown Banff

Not a cloud in the sky welcomed the day, our last in Banff.  We decided that a short cruise on Lake Minnewanka was the perfect way to end our adventures on this trip.  This “Spirits of Waters,” as the First Nation tribes referred to it, is filled with history and ancient lore.  It is 24 km long and at the widest point, 2 km.  There is even a small village covered by 60 feet of water.

Dock area on Lake Minnewanka

There is an abundance of wildlife along the shore including bighorn sheep, cougars, bald eagles, grizzlies, and black bear.  The 38 km hiking trail was recently closed due to a grizzly charge on a mountain biker.  Thankfully, he was not injured.  During this season the buffalo berries are ripe and the

One of the bald eagles we spotted

bears love them. Hence, the problem on the trail since the bushes are all along it.  A bit of trivia, the average grizzly will eat 250,000 berries a day.  A highlight, besides the magnificent scenery, was spotting several bald eagles.

After another lunch at the Balkan Greek Restaurant and a final loop on Mountain Tunnel Road, we headed to Calgary in preparation for our flight early tomorrow.

In the September issue of the PJ, I will go into much more details about the Banff area.  In the October issue, I will focus on Lake Louise and Jasper areas.   There will be a number of recommendations should you decide to head this way.

The far end of Lake Minnewanka

I hope you enjoyed your journey with me.

Day 6: Lake Louise Area

Posted by Bob on Wednesday, August 25th, 2010

Moraine Lake

Today was one of the best for photography and for enjoying the Creator’s beauty.  The smoke from the forest fires was gone and the sky was clearer than yesterday.  The first destination was Moraine Lake.  The scenic ride there was leisurely and uncrowded.  However, once we arrived following the 14 km drive, the masses began to arrive but nowhere in the numbers that occur in late June and July.  In order to obtain the photo shown, I hiked a steep .6 km trail but the exertion was worth it.  What views!  We spent over 90 minutes there enjoying the scenery.

Lake Louise, view from Chateau Lake Louise

Finally, we tore ourselves away, besides we were hungry, and headed for Lake Louise.  Adding to the enticement of the lake is the world famous Fairmont Chateau Lake Louise Hotel.  The walk in, reduced rate at the time for the least expensive room is a mere $465 per night.  However, visitor are more than welcomed to walk the immaculate grounds and dine in their restaurants.  At lunch we looked out over nature’s wonder, Lake Louise.  Afterward, much time was spent sitting and being mesmerized.

Osprey mother feeding her two young, note the fish in her talons

On the way back to Banff, we took 1a in the hopes of spotting wildlife.  We were not disappointed.  Enjoy the picture of mother osprey feeding her young.

Tonight we enjoyed another first class dinner at Melissa’s.  The salmon from B.C. tasted so fresh that I thought I was dining on the Pacific coast.  The light bearnaise sauce added to the overall flavor.  Jonathon, our server, was efficient and friendly.  Be sure to try Melissa’s out if in Banff.

Tomorrow a.m. we will explore the area a bit more before heading to Calgary and then home.

Day 5: Magnificent Icefields Parkway

Posted by Bob on Tuesday, August 24th, 2010

Emeralded Bow Lake

We awoke to chill but sunshine.  As we traveled the 250 km back to Lake Louise, the sun with patchy clouds was our companion.  What a difference from yesterday when rain was our nemesis.  Following a luscious breakfast, we headed to the Bear’s Paw Bakery in Jasper to stock up for the trip to Lake Louise.  During the 150 miles there are only a couple of places to purchase food so why not picnic along the road, almost an infinite number of places from which to choose.  (By the way, this bakery is one of the best I have ever visited.  What a selection!)

Off of 93a I traveled back in time as we drove the Mt. Edith Cavell Road, almost 8.5 miles up.  The last

A section of the Icefields Parkway that runs from Jasper to Lake Louise

time I was on this road was in the early 70’s.  It was unpaved at the time and was a cycling challenge.  My chest puffed out a bit with pride thinking I had actually biked up it.  Pushing a gas pedal was definitely easier.

The Icefields Parkway, as the highway is called from Jasper to Lake Louise, presented its best face forward.  Athabasca Falls, Sunwapta Falls, Bridal Veil Falls, and Tangle Falls possessed their own unique beauty.  Bow Lake was the emerald beauty that I remembered.  Lunch was enjoyed while surrounded by peaks 9,000 ft. or more.  Snow and glaciers abounded.

With many photo stops, the drive to Lake Louise took a little over 6 hours.  After checking in, we headed for the Lake Louise Gondola, which travels over a ski area but also grizzly country.  I thought the opening presentation was a bit of hype but ate my works about 20 minutes later when a grizzly was spotted.  Personnel arrived quickly ready to hustle us off to safety if she came any closer.  From a photographer’s point of view she never came close enough but offered some real excitement.

Athabasca Falls

Dinner of fish and chips (halibut and fresh cut fries) were enjoyed at The Station in the village.  Fresh vegetables accompanied the main course.  Boy, they were fixed to perfection!  I could have had them as a meal.  The Station is definitely worth a stop if you plan on eating in Lake Louise.

Day 4 The Long Haul to Jasper

Posted by Bob on Sunday, August 22nd, 2010

Columbia Glacier, note the cars in the lot for perspective– blue ice is the very front

The day started out well with breakfast at the Wild Flour and sun lighting the streets of Banff with soft hues of yellow.  The day was planned with stops at Lake Louise and the Columbia Glacier.  But alas, the rain gods had other plans.  A short distance outside of Banff the weather began to deteriorate and the rains arrived accompanying us on most of the 395 km (approximately 240 miles) journey.  Occasionally, the sun crept through the clouds.  We bypassed Lake Louise for the return but stopped at the Columbia Glacier reception area since the skies momentarily cleared.  The glacier covers an area about the size of Vancouver.  One of the animal highlights along the way was spotting a black bear just a few feet

Phantom animal? Black bear too fast for Quick Draw Bob

off the road.  However, he moved too quickly to get a decent shot …darn!

Jasper’s layout is different than Banff with more spacious streets and less trees. The number of upscale stores drops drastically.   It is about 2,000 people smaller in population.

Our room is far less spacious than at Rimrock, but we are only staying one night, a change in plans from the two nights.  Our goal is to travel back to Lake Louise and spend Monday night there.

Glacial lake

Day 3 Flora and Fauna – Banff Style

Posted by Bob on Sunday, August 22nd, 2010

Cascade of Time Gardens in Banff

So much to cover today!  I have pictures and pictures to share but not enough time.  What I will do is create some web pages later which you can click onto.  For now, I will tempt you with a small pictorial taste.

Following a scrumptious breakfast at Melissa’s we headed to the Cascade of Time Gardens in downtown Banff.  Much of the smoke from the wild fires had dissipated so the a.m. picture safari to these gardens was a perfect fit.  I have seen some of the greatest gardens in the world so have a background on which to compare.  The garden, which consists mainly of annuals, is one of the most beautiful I have seen.  I spent close to two hours taking

Mr. Feng doing Yang Style Tai Chi

pictures.  While there, I had the privilege of meeting the Feng Family, which added to the enjoyment.  Below is a picture of the elder Feng doing the Tai Chi Yang form.  Later, I had to do my own practice series farther from watchful eyes …:-)

Lunch was enjoyed at Wild Flour, a restaurant that serves only organic food.  The apple-apricot scone was to die for, and it was healthy!

From there, the road led us to Johnston Falls.  On the way four elk slowed us down a bit.  The 1K hike to the lower falls through the aromatic pine forest kept the blood flowing.

Bow River Valley

On the return to Banff, based upon the suggestion of a local, we headed up to the Norquay Ski area for a

Mr. Elk

panoramic view of  the village far below.  More bighorn mountain sheep slowed our climb.

To end the day, a gourmet meal at the Primrose Restaurant at the Rimrock Resort provided perfect closure.  The Butter Chicken, a modified Indian dish, was a delight to thetaste buds.  The blend of flavors was perfection.  A definite 10/10.

Partial view of Lower Johnston Falls

A partial view of Lower Johnston Falls

Banff viewed from Norquay Lookout

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