Day 2 Exploring Banff

Posted by Bob on Friday, August 20th, 2010

We awoke to serious smokey haze.  There are over 300 wildfires burning several hundred miles to the west in B.C. and the wind is blowing the smoke our way.  However, we did not let this less than ideal photo situation dissuade us in searching for the best shots.  Following breakfast, Bow Falls, just outside the Village of Banff, was the first stop.  While not a huge falls, the wide river of rushing water proved to be spectacular.  I also pictorially captured an English family doing some impromptu rock climbing.

The next stops included a number as we circled Lake Minnewanka, “Lake of the Water Spirits.”

English family rock climbing above Bow Falls

Anthropologists have ascertained that humans have inhabited the area around this lake for over 10,000.  First Nation tribes held the lake to be sacred.  On the the Lake Minnewanka Loop, a group of big horn mountain sheep caught my attention.  Two Jake Lake, a beautiful picnic as well as walking area, provided me with the photo of the day.  TJL is part of Minnewanka.  Sadly, the heavy smokey haze prohibited more pictures of the area.

Lunch was enjoyed at the Balkan Restaurant.  Definitely worth a visit.  Within the village is the Whyte Museum, another enjoyable

Baby Big Horn Mountain Sheep

stop.  It featured a special exhibit on grizzly bears, entities I hope not to meet while hiking.  The museum also has an extensive exhibit on the history of the region.

Despite the haze, we took the Banff Gondola up the mountain.  Spectacular views.  I can only imagine what the views must look like on a clear day.

Two Jack Lake (a favorite picture)

One of the myriad of views from the top of the Banff Gondola ride

The Canadian Rockies – Banff & Jasper

Posted by Bob on Thursday, August 19th, 2010

Looking out from the lounge at Rimrock Resort, Banff, AB

The day started at 4 a.m., up in time to ready and then board a 6:30 a.m. flight from Cleveland to Calgary, Alberta.  From Calgary, a close to two-hour drive brought us to Banff National Park, Canada’s oldest.

In 1973, I led a group of high school students on a two-week bike trip through this magnificent scenery.  Rather than by plane, we arrived following an arduous “rehabbed” school bus trip across country.  We stayed in youth hostels or camped under a tarp that pulled out from the bus.  Flash forward, today, we are staying at a very upscale hotel, Rimrock Resort.  Many years and a long way from shared bunkhouses.

Memories and recall flashed before me as we entered the park.  One new one, it now costs close to $20 a day to enter and stay in the park.  A haze hovered over the mountains.  We later learned that forest fires in British Columbia were the cause.

Over ten years have passed since I have visited this marvelous country.  Entering the country was the first major change, full passport inspections, etc.   I had also forgotten that fast food does not exist on every corner or intersection.  After leaving Calgary we finally discovered a restaurant, which frankly became undiscovered, if you get the gist.  Now that we are in Banff there is a wide variety from which to choose.

More tomorrow on some of the changes.  Time to get some shuteye. Hope you will join me tomorrow as we explore this area of Canada.

Reading and enjoying the view

Final blog on Madison

Posted by Bob on Saturday, June 12th, 2010

In the earlier blog I mentioned that Madison has one of the highest concentrations of historic blocks on the National Registry of anywhere in the U.S.  As you walk the

Broadway Fountain

downtown, you cannot help but spot the Broadway Fountain, one of only four that exist in the world.  People often choose to take a rest break on one of the benches.  As you head toward the Ohio River, the well-maintained walk allows for a leisurely stroll watching the river traffic and enjoying the shade.  Across from the main section of the walk is a swimming area.  On weekends you can enjoy carriage rides and a tourist tram.  However, one can easily walk much of the historical area.

River walk

Based upon the recommendation of our innkeepers, Steve and Dee, we chose to have dinner at the Bistro One.  A wise choice!  The service was friendly and efficient.  Expect owner and chef Nick to stop by your table to see if the food was prepared to your liking.  All the food was prepared from scratch.  The four of us enjoyed our meals.  We tried a variety of options including shrimp, fish, and veal — all fixed in the appropriate tantalizing sauces.  My personal overall rating is 8.5/10.

Formal living and dining rooms in the Iron Gate Inn

Being a tourist area, there are a number of fine places to stay.  After checking the web, we settled on the Iron Gate Inn on the edge of the historic district downtown.  This large 19th century home is what many picture as the perfect B&B.  The innkeepers were friendly and helpful with excellent suggestions.  The candlelight breakfast, included in the price, was one the best I have experienced in my many stays at B&B’s throughout the country.  The French toast, one of the multiple courses, was made with a special recipe.  Ooh La La!  The breakfast alone made the stay worth it!  The small courtyard in the back is perfect for tai chi or yoga among the flowers.

The side garden that leads to the one in the back

This ends the blogging for now.  The Poetical Journal will announce when it goes live again.  Of course, if you have signed up for the RSS feed, you will automatically know when a new entry has been made.

Madison, Indiana continued

Posted by Bob on Friday, June 11th, 2010

Courtyard at Lanthier Winery

Besides having a fascinating array of historical homes to visit, there are several small wineries that still offer that personal tasting experience that use to be prevalent in Napa before the hordes descended upon them in such numbers that tasting fees were added.  We visited the Lanthier Winery, less than 100 yards from the Lanier Mansion and the community’s elegant information center.  Having collected wines for over thirty-five years, I have specific tastes that I like.  While I enjoy visiting small wineries in the “nontraditional” growing areas, seldom do I enjoy them.  But in this case, I purchased two fruit wines, which I NEVER do.  One wine in particular, Festival Cherry, when sipped while eating a small piece of chocolate, caused the flavor to explode in your mouth like a rich, luscious dark chocolate cherry cordial.  Besides, joining others in the tasting room was fun and relaxing.

Brother-in-law Jerry, Sister Larraine, and Jan posing in front of bridge over the Ohio River

Being a river town, one never moves far from the Ohio River that serves as the city’s southern border.  There is a peaceful sidewalk along sections of the city park.  Benches and historical signage allow you to relax as well as stay abreast of local history.

A delicious place to dine is the Key West Shrimp House.  It is near the river so you have a nice view.  For lunch, I had one of the best fish chowders with large pieces of shrimp in it.  The salad bar contains unique items including mashed potato salad and pickled melon (tastes much better than it sounds).  It is one of the most comprehensive and

Entrant to the Key West Shrimp House

unique salad bars that I have seen.  The main course of fish selection was also delightful.  Angie, our server, was fantastic.  When she learned that we were visiting for the first-time, she disappeared for a few moments and came back with a city map and a variety of places to visit.  Since she has lived there most of her life, she had vast local knowledge.  Angie is the one that started our trip off on the “right foot.”  Angie set the tone for our fun-filled visit to Madison.

Tomorrow: We will talk about a fine B&B and another restaurant for your evening meal.

Area near winery and Lanier Mansion

A Detour to Madison, Indiana

Posted by Bob on Wednesday, June 9th, 2010

The historic Lanier Mansion

Last week before my anticipated trip to Tacoma, we joined my sister, Larraine, and her husband, Jerry, and traveled to Madison, a small river town along the Ohio River. The city of about 12,000 contains 133 blocks in the downtown area that are on the National Register of Historic Places.

Though the rains had flowed in abundance, on the day and night spent there, the weather cooperated. For the next several blog entries I will discuss this historic city.  Madison has some of the friendliest people I have met.  It was not that false friendliness that so many fast food restaurants display but genuine appreciation that you were a customer.

Looking into the Lanier Gardens

Be sure to visit the showpiece mansion, the Lanier House that was constructed during the years 1840-44.  The thirty minute tour was fascinating.  (I am not one who usually enjoys such things.)

Be sure to stop at the city information center center across from the Lanier Memorial to obtain friendly and helpful information.

Looking up the three floor stairway

Coming: Wineries, Fine Eating, and a fine B&B.

Update on my Mother: She has shown some improvement but has a long way to go for full recovery.

One of the sitting rooms

One of the sitting rooms

Back in Ohio – Mom Stable

Posted by Bob on Tuesday, June 8th, 2010

I was able to catch the “red eye” at 11 PM to Detroit and then Cleveland.  All went without a hitch.  I headed straight to the hospital arriving around 10 a.m.  Mom has loss her ability to speak but is cognisant of those around her.  We continue to prayer.  I extend my appreciation to those who have offered support.

Tomorrow, I hope to take us a different direction but will continue to give updates on Mom’s progress.

May peace be with each of you,


Flying Home – Emergency

Posted by Bob on Tuesday, June 8th, 2010

I am at SEA-TAC awaiting an 11 PM flight for Detroit and then Cleveland.  I received a text message from my sister this afternoon to call either my wife or her.  Right away I knew that bad news awaited.  A call confirmed that my mother had a major stroke and was in the hospital unable to speak.  However, she could recognize what people were saying.  Ironically, today is her 87th birthday.  She must have had a premonition that things were not well as she verbally stated on several occasions that she hoped this birthday would pass quickly.  The importance of my tai chi conference quickly moved to the back burner.  While we all realize that we are not physically immortal, somehow we always wish that our loved ones are.  More later…

Back to College (I’m too old…)

Posted by Bob on Sunday, June 6th, 2010

Not the Ritz

Departing 7 a.m. for the 80 mile drive to the Cleveland Airport; land in Minneapolis and do about a mile jaunt from Gate G to C; arrive in Seattle and sent to two different carousels for luggage – each at the opposite end of the terminal; finally find the right shuttle to the University of Puget Sound; and register to discover my room to be a traditional college dorm with all the fixings including common showers and bathrooms.  Hmm, nothing like last year’s resort hotel.  At my maturing age I have decided that I do not want to return to college life.  Have been there and done that.  But, I am here to learn a new tai chi form.  So I will smile and enjoy!

I may have to write a piece on the importance of being flexible and learning to adjust to life situations.

By the way, we took a short jaunt on Thursday and Friday of last week to Madison, Indiana – quite a beautiful restored river town.  I will update you on that mini-adventure, perhaps starting tomorrow.

Going to Tacoma, WA for Tai Chi Conference

Posted by Bob on Sunday, May 23rd, 2010

Starting on Sunday, June 6, follow me and my adventures at Dr. Paul Lam’s Tai Chi Conference in Tacoma, Washington.  I will also be including pictures of the area as time permits.  Be sure to link to the RSS feed to keep track of new entries.  I will be housed at the University of Puget Sound in downtown Tacoma. Stop by and visit if you are nearby.

Day 31.5: Final Aloha and Mahalo

Posted by Bob on Tuesday, March 2nd, 2010

Looking one direction on Sunset Beach

This is the final entry on this Hawaiian journey.  I hope you have enjoyed traveling with me.
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