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

Rolling and rising across the country, the fourth wave of the pandemic and the wake it’s leaving behind is dampening not only our travel, but our slippery grasp on feeling gratitude this Thanksgiving. Poetry to the rescue!

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How have you been celebrating the International Year of Fruits and Vegetables? Ha! If you’re like us, you didn’t know the United Nations declared such for 2021. Reading about UN’s designation a week ago led to today’s story,  an agritourism destination we highly recommend. A farm stay at Klippers Organics and dinner onsite at Row 14, named the number one restaurant in Vancouver (even though it’s five hours away!) in 2019 by The Globe and Mail.

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On the edge of our province a hundred kilometres from the mainland is Haida Gwaii, the former Queen Charlotte Islands, the ancestral home of the Haida, the West Coast First Nations. In the remote south of Haida Gwaii is a national park reserve, one of the most spectacular, untamed wilderness areas in the world. Gwaii Haanas—place of wonder. An isolated archipelago of 138 islands featuring some of the largest trees on earth, 1,600 kilometres of coastal shoreline, 42 freshwater lakes, thundering surf, fog-hung mornings, rain-deluged days and sometimes, mirror-flat seas. With no roads and limited facilities, the only access is by chartered aircraft or boat, as was our experience three years ago. In deepest summer with drink and book, a particular memory of that trip surfaces, still.

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“When you take a flower in your hand and really look at it, it’s your world for the moment. I want to give that world to someone else.” Georgia O’Keeffe, New York Post, May 16, 1946

Imagine the flowers Georgia O’Keeffe would have painted had she traded the red rock canyons of New Mexico for those in Waterton Lakes National Park. The choices she’d have! More than half the wildflower species in Alberta lavishly dab the mountain trails with colour—175 species listed as rare in the province, 20 that grow nowhere else in the world.

Magellan and I had frequently talked about visiting Waterton during its annual Wildflower Festival. Never happened. After sixteen years, the festival ended in June 2019. So we created our own little flower fiesta this June, beginning with a hike to Blakiston Falls and continuing along Red Rock Canyon.

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Were it not for our friend Karol, Magellan and I would have stayed in Waterton Park’s townsite campground, Rove-Inn side-by-side with 237 other rigs, moving each night for our four-day stay because it was so busy we couldn’t book consecutive nights.

“Have a look at Police Outpost,” Karol said. “It was one of our favourite places to camp and it’s only a 35-minute drive from Waterton. Don always said it was one of the places he wanted his ashes to be spread.”

One quick look at the website for Police Outpost Provincial Park and Magellan clicked to another screen to cancel our reservations at the warehouse campsite and book site #35 at Police Outpost.

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A heat dome parked over Western Canada inmate June, a mass of hot air circulating within itself. Like a sauna in the sky guarded all round by strong-armed bouncers forbidding cooler air to enter. Because of our dry spring, the air had little moisture, so it was easier for solar energy to make the hot air even hotter. Omega blocks, wavy patterns in the jet stream, caused temperatures to soar in the same location day after day. Like in Lytton, BC, which on June 27 smashed the record for the highest temperature in Canada when the mercury climbed to 46.6º, soared to 47.9º the next day and reached a hypnagogic 49.6º on June 29.

Hiking in Banff National Park, that’s where Magellan and I were. Where the temperature on Monday, June 28, sizzled to a new high: 36.6º! Scorching the previous high of 34.4º set on June 17, 1941.

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