Where to go in Canada, the US and Mexico

From wilderness to wonderful

As jubilados (Spanish for retirees) living in Canada, we’re interested in exploring the natural and nuanced in North America

Is there somebody you know who has been characterized in a love story?

For us, ‘tis Liz (Chute) O’Carroll, proprietress of The Pebble, a renowned B&B in Halifax. Liz and her husband David’s love story is immortalized in the short story “The Pebble” by Ireland’s Bryan MacMahon, writer, teacher, novelist and playwright from the literary town of Listowel where Liz and David grew up. “Our story is one of the great romances of our town,” Liz told us.

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Conehead, Rove-Inn’s most remote (and perhaps most memorable) camp spot.

On Rennell Sound, Haida Gwaii, the only point on the west coast of Graham Island accessible by vehicle.

Our destination, 15 km in, first-come, first-serve, no reservations, no potable water, no internet, and no cell-phone coverage: the single spot at Gregory Beach; or Conehead, further on with two campsites and an outhouse.

Accessible, yes, but only on logging roads. And only between 7am and 5pm if you have a CB radio (we don’t). Otherwise you must follow someone who has a CB radio, or travel at other times. (5pm for us.) Prohibited are RVs and boat trailers. We were warned: “Surface conditions on the Rennell Sound Forest Service road are not the best—the current condition of the road can be confirmed at the Visitor Centre in Queen Charlotte City.” Magellan checked: all good.

Another warning: “The final descent from the alpine down to the shore is a startling 25% gradient, one of the steepest public roads in North America.” Magellan dismissed the cautioning.

The wilderness for two nights, a visit to the renowned Bonanza Beach—relax, there’s nothing to worry about he smiled confidently.

And for a time, he was right.

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Nowhere else have we travelled where the sky so big, the light so clear, the landscape so revealing, the quiet so widespread, the solitude so profound as in the thanksgiving-yellow plains of southwestern Saskatchewan.

Of the many things we’re thankful for this year, our autumn experience at Grasslands National Park claims the foreground. Maybe the perspective of a long view is what we need now.

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We’ve never been to Saratoga Springs in upstate New York. Didn’t even know it existed until 1972 when Carly Simon released “You’re so vain:” 

Well I hear you went up to Saratoga
And your horse naturally won

Of all the places we wanted to visit in Death Valley National Park, Saratoga Springs was near the top. And with the Superbloom the year we were there, we were vain enough to hope a few wildflowers would still be waiting for us at what’s considered the park’s best springs.

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Climbing above Badwater Road, Artist’s Drive displays a spectacular palette of colour on the face of the Black Mountains. Minted pearl green from chlorite—my favourite. Lavender empurpled from manganese. Yellow, light as pollen and dense as mustard, from iron oxide. Pastel pink deepening to ochre red from Hematite. The threatening sky a wash of denim blues.

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On a March afternoon outside Furnace Creek Visitor Center, Magellan and I waited for just a few minutes for the thermometer to register 100° Fahrenheit. This year on an August afternoon Furnace Creek truly lived up to its name when the mercury read a fiery 130° Fahrenheit (54.4° Celsius), the hottest reliably measured temperature in recorded history on Earth. Why would anyone visit this scorching-hot national park with its ominous names, killer heat and blistered desert landscape?  Read more