Ploughing Snow

Yesterday was a beautiful winter day here in Nova Scotia.   A sky full of great big fluffy snow flakes slowly, patiently made their way to the ground, then melted almost as soon as they fell.  It was peaceful and breathtaking.  It made me love winter and feel fortunate to live in Canada where we can count on snow in the winter.

When I work up this morning I had to clear the snow.  It had stopped melting when it hit the ground.  Our new house has a long, long driveway.

I guess at this point a bit of background information is in order.   I am a bad driver.  I have never been in an accident, but I really don’t like driving.  I don’t enjoy loud machines.    My family makes great sport of this. 

While my husband was home during Christmas he bought a used plow for the front of the 4 wheeler, so I could clear the driveway myself.  We were all very excited; this plow was going to work great.  It would make up for the past year’s invention, which was a plow made out of half a plastic barrel and some metal.  It did not work.  It just rode on top of the snow.  It was less frustrating to shovel the driveway myself.

The first snowfall after installing the plow, happened when my daughter and 7 year old grandson were visiting.   Both of them knew how to work the wheeler much better than I did.  I was pleased with this, until my daughter filmed me getting the machine started (after much muttering and pushing of unnecessary buttons) and plowing the driveway (so slow that a little boy and bull dog could run beside me).   I am always good for some family entertainment.  My husband said he watched it four times-YouTube here we come.

Today I was completely on my own.  First the lock for the shed where the wheeler is kept was frozen solid.  I blew on the lock to warm it up-being careful not to touch it (a lesson most Canadians learn early) until it melted the ice inside.

Plowed

I lifted the blade of the wheeler and pulled the choke, turned the key and pushed the starter.  It coughed and sputtered but started.  I put it into gear and drove it down the narrow ramp and out of the shed.  One run up the driveway, put it in reverse gear, stall, start again, stall, start and back up.  Put it in first gear, stall, re-start it and ‘give’er’.  I made it all the way back, although I still went slow.  Feeling encouraged,  I thought I should have a back-up space for the car.  That is when the machine decided it no longer wanted to work in 4 wheel drive.  So, I put it in neutral, lifted the blade, got off the machine and pushed and pulled until it would back up in 2 wheel drive.  There was quite a bit more of the stalling, pushing and pulling before I got the machine back in the shed.  I shovelled the rest.

The forecast calls for 10 to 15cm of snow tomorrow.  I think I will wait and see if it warms up enough in the next few days to melt the snow.

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A Visit to La Arboleda

Entrance La Arboleda

In 2011 we made a trip to Varadero, Cuba as a large family group.  There were 11 of us, 10 travelling from Nova Scotia and one from Alberta.  Our Cuban brother-in-law had arranged for his family to visit from Las Tunas at the same time.

As usual, our friend Pavel wanted to invite everyone to his house for a meal.  But his house was too small for our large group.  Instead he arranged transportation and we all joined him and his family at a park on the Canimar River outside Matanzas city.

Our transport couldn’t go under the bridge for the train so we all walked to the park from there.  It was a sunny day which made for a nice walk through the countryside.

We passed a campismo, a campground with cabins instead of tents, and soon arrived at the entrance.

We paid 1 CUC to enter and 5 CUC for a meal plus one beverage.

El Campismo

Time to eat

The tables were set up along the river under shade trees.  There were paddle boats for rent, horse back rides and even a bull ride.  One group went with Pavel in the paddle boat and explored an abandoned village nearby.  A few of us went swimming in the river; it had a muddy bottom which didn’t feel nice underfoot.  I prefer salt water for swimming, but our Cuban friends like swimming in ‘sweet’ water like the river.

Dominos

I brought out the dominos, and since there was so many of us we decided to teach the Cubans a new game called Mexican Train.  I don’t think they were much impressed, but with typical Cuban good humour they played anyway.

The meal was great.  Everyone had the choice of grilled pork or chicken, rice and black beans, and salad.  The salad dressing was in an old rum bottle that was stuffed with onions and peppers covered with oil and vinegar.  It was delicious.

We waved from the shore at the tourists in the boats going by, while we enjoyed a day at the park.

The Alaska Highway

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Travelling the Alaska Highway is not for the timid, but the rewards are impressive.  It is a long drive.  The highway winds its way through mountain passes for 1422 miles or 2,288 km from Dawson Creek to Delta Junction, Alaska.  … Continue reading

Stop the Commercialization of Jasper National Park

The information that follows is from avaaz.org.  When we visited Banff and Jasper National Park in the fall of 2010, I was surprised at how much control Brewster Canada (an 80% American owned company) had over major tourist attractions in the parks.  I hope they will not gain more power over this beautiful area and I hope readers will do their research and sign the petition!–Paula MacMillan

Photo:  Columbia Icefield

In days, the Harper Government could privatise a section of Jasper National Park and let an American-owned company blast a 300m metal walkway into our World Heritage mountains — but Jasper’s Superintendent has the power to stop them.

The plan would not only spur development, but would give an American company the right to charge each of us for entry into parts of Jasper park. Greg Fenton, a local Jasperite, has the ability to stop the privatisation of the park he grew up in and loves — but the company’s lobbying effort means he will face pressure to sell out this natural wonder. Let’s send him a tidal wave of support and give him the strength he needs to stand up to corporate power and save our Rocky Mountain sanctuary.

Help make sure our parks stay in public hands — Click here sign to the petition calling on Fenton to save Jasper National Park before it’s too late:

http://www.avaaz.org/en/jasper_development/?vl

The 300m metal walkway over the world-famous Icefields Parkway will be built by Brewster Canada — a premium travel company that is an 80% owned subsidiary of the American-based company VIAD. Both are fully profit-driven companies that value their bottom line over the preservation of our natural heritage. Though the initial development project is small, this decision sets a dangerous precedent, allowing the government to hand over control of our most valuable and beautiful landscape.

VIAD and Brewster have hired expensive heavyweight lobbyists to win over the Harper Government and Jasper National Park. But our voices, brought together from across Canada, can drown out the dangerous message coming from these corporate lobbyists.

Our call only needs to reach Greg Fenton, the Park’s Superintendent and the person who has the final say on the approval of the project. With thousands of Canadians pounding on the door of Fenton’s office already, this is our chance to ensure that Jasper does not set a precedent allowing commercial operators to convert our National Parks into profit-making attractions.

http://www.avaaz.org/en/jasper_development/?vl

Avaaz has fought hard to protect our natural environment by campaigning on climate change, whaling and protecting our oceans — now we can come together to save our parks from corporate ownership.

With hope,

Emma, Ari, Ricken, Morgan, Stephanie and the entire Avaaz team.

Sources:

Jasperite, Greg Fenton, returns home to become superintendent of Jasper National Park (Parks Canada)
http://www.pc.gc.ca/pn-np/ab/jasper/ne/cybernouvelles-enews/ne9_07.aspx

National Parks – and the views – belong to Canadians (Calgary Herald)
http://www.calgaryherald.com/travel/National+parks+views+belong+Canadians/5850372/story.html

Feedback Deadline Looms, Decision Expected Next Month (The Fitzhugh)
http://www.fitzhugh.ca/news/5826-feedback-deadline-looms-decision-expected-next-month

Record of Lobbying (Office of the Commissioner of Lobbying of Canada)
https://ocl-cal.gc.ca/app/secure/orl/lrrs/do/publicSummary?language=en_CA®Dec=667988&searchPage=publicBasicSearch&sMdKy=1326215370761

National Parks should be Wildlife Sanctuaries, not Cash Cows (Green Party of Canada)
http://greenparty.ca/media-release/2012-01-09/national-parks-should-be-wildlife-sanctuaries-not-cash-cows

Calgary and Banff

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This gallery contains 3 photos.

In the fall of 2010 we made two trips to Alberta.  The weather was warm and balmy for September.  We stayed one night in Calgary at the Fairmont Palliser Hotel, a beautiful old hotel, close to the 8th Avenue Mall … Continue reading

Old Hippies Hit the Road

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Off to EuropeSearching and researching a title for a travel blog is tough work.  My original idea was “Old Hippies Hit the Road”, my daughter christened us old hippies, but it doesn’t really fit. Then came “Bluenoser Travel” until I looked up the definition of Bluenoser (which is defined as a puritanical person-I always thought it meant from Nova Scotia!).  Other titles I tried included:  Frugal Traveller (taken), Inspired Wanderer (taken), Exhilarated Excursions (not really descriptive of my travel style).  After several days, I opted for The Inspired Packer.  Whether you are travelling for a few days in your own province or thousands of miles away, packing signals the start of your journey.

This site is about travel.  Something I am passionate about.

If you are under 30 and your travel style involves hiking for days in the wilderness and pitching a tent where-ever you fetch up, this site probably isn’t for you.  I’m not into that much adventure.

If you are over 30 and your travel style involves staying at 5 star hotels, using taxis and local guides, this site may not hold many answers for you.  5 star hotels can be nice, but I usually don’t have that much money to spend.

But, if your are moderately active, seek low-cost travel experiences and are not afraid to climb aboard local transport and discover a place on your own, you may find answers here.

Picture:  Here we are at the Halifax airport ready to hit the road for 6 weeks.