Preparing for the big trip to the Great White North, I sought out a wealth of advice on how to get the perfect picture of white on white, polar bears up close, ptarmigan in motion… what camera to use.. what settings… Being an amateur photographer with not much money to spend on a new camera and limited time, I packed up my IPhone, my 6 year old Canon point and shoot and a loaner from work, a newer Sony point and shoot. Here I’d like to share my favorite wildlife shots, enjoy!
Who would have thought that somewhere near the middle of Canada in the balmy province of Manitoba there would be a gem of a city that some may reference, maybe due to its record low temps or also being known as the coldest major city in Canada I would find… Winterpeg!
If you ever find yourself making your way through the city here are just a couple of my favorites…
Canadian Museum of Human Rights: the first museum worldwide solely dedicated to the celebration of human rights, architecturally stunning, and probably the best view of the city from its Tower of Hope. Allow yourself lots of time to meander.
Aaron Cohen. The Canadian Museum for Human Rights. Winnipeg. 2014.
Fergies Fish’n Chips: talk a stroll down by The Forks on the river and snag up one of the city’s oldest and most well-known traditional portions of fish’n chips. You know you’re eating well when the long time locals find themselves here.
Thermëa: a Nordik spa experience that is truly like heaven on earth. I will quickly breakdown your first hour or so at the spa… change into an oversized robe and slippers, heat up from the cold in a hot suana, plunge in the polar pool to fluch toxins, hot steam in a eucalytpus scented steam room, lavendar scented salt scrub shower and rinse, heated meditation rooms with music and hot tea and… repeat 2 more times. Then relax in the hot or with a cup of tea by the outdoor fire. All for $50CAD or $37USD. Need ask more?
Manitoba Museum: take a deeper look at Manitoba history. Well worth the guided tour to learn more about survival in the north, the Hudson Bay Co. and much more.
With lots more to do, see and eat in Winterpeg make sure to enjoy these favorites!
I remember a time, lying on the floor of my father’s home office, curiously skimming the bright gold-colored spines of his neatly arranged National Geographic collection, “…Peru Mummies, Bombay, US National Parks, Arctic, Lichens…” and running my fingers across images of far away people, lands and species that I only dreamt existed. I knew, one day, there would be a day, I would see such things with my own eyes.
Many years and many moments of transition later, I sat in the front row of one of my favorite college courses, “Sustainable Tourism”. That day we spoke at length about a small town in the Arctic north, Churchill, Manitoba, Canada. People from all over travel to this isolated corner of the world, in search of spotting one of the most powerful and beautiful creatures that still exist. Yep you guessed it, the polar bear. That day I felt all the images etched in my memory from thumbing through those pages race back into my direct, clear, view. I knew that day not only would I bear witness to this magnificent animal but I would be a part of something, something bigger.
Time went on… I continued travel and work in the southern hemisphere. Then as some would say. the stars aligned. My time with my work in Brazil felt as if it was nearing a close. Within days from returning home from the south I came across a new job opportunity and nearly 8 weeks and numerous interviews later, I landed a position with my dream company, Natural Habitat Adventures. As luck would have it, working operations on the “Polar Bear team”. Starting my new job smack dab in the middle of the 6-week polar bear season in Churchill and hopeful I would have the opportunity to travel that season, in just a couple of weeks I found myself boarding a plane to embark on an a long waited and thought about experience of a lifetime… all of the hard work, perseverance and determination paid off.
It is interesting finding yourself in a dreamlike, surreal, euphoric state living out what you thought may be the impossible, walking through the scenes of what were once only childhood dreams. Staring out the window of yet another airplane window brimming with the anticipation and excitement of what is to come, this time, the Great White North.
Stay tuned for more of the “Great White North”… Would love it if your shared your moments!
In a spur of the moment decision to get away with a friend and a dire need for a mini vacation we stumbled upon a cheap flight from Denver to Seattle. Neither of us having been to the northwest coast and not sure what to expect we quickly realized that Vancouver was only a short drive north. We immediately booked our tickets and anxiously awaited for the week to pass.
I had never travelled to Canada and to be honest it was never high on my top 10 must see places bucket list. However, I cannot express how rejuvenating, beautiful, magical and surprising British Columbia was to me. This is a place where natural beauty still abounds. Vancouver is a city full of cultural diversity, culinary expertise, impeccable public transit, and funky districts all surrounded by bridges taking you out of the city into the mountains that encircle it all. If you have not yet been it is a must add to the travel bucket list. Here are just a few of the highlights….
Our first night wandering the city, having gotten settled late, we found this gem of a pub. Moose’s Down Under offering Aussie fare in the heart of Vancouver. I indulged myself on a traditional Aussie meat pie and a local Vancouver beer…
We found the perfect place to stay on airbnb in the heart of downtown Vancouver. Our gracious and accommodating host Justin from London made sure we had everything we needed. Situated on Granville Street we were within walking distance of everything we wanted to see and… the view from the balcony was incredible…
We got up early the next morning and headed up to Whistler/Blackcomb to ski for the day. The drive up the Sea to Sky highway will take your breath away. Although the clouds settled in low, as they tend to do most days during this time of year in B.C. the views were still stunning.
We arrived at Whistler seeming somewhat surreal that we were just driving along the coast in fog and rain and before us was the largest ski resort located in the Americas.
After a day full snowboarding the vast terrain we headed back down the coast on a mission to catch sight of some waterfalls that we had spotted on the drive that morning…
After returning back to Vancouver that evening….
… we gallivanted around town and ran into the Lamplighter Pub in the Gaslight District. Here we bellied up for the night and induldged in delicious local craft brews. The next morning we stumbled upon the La Luna Café and ordered up coffee, crossaints and a London Fog.
Afterwards, we headed to the Capilano Suspension Bridge just outside of the city. It being one of the largest tourist attractions in Vancouver we were a little hesitant to pay the 30$CAD to be surrounded by bustling crowds. It was money well spent. The park is designed around a suspension bridge that was built by pioneers in the late 1880’s that spans across a massive canyon that is home to diverse wildlife including the majestic bald eagle. They have also built a cliffwalk that overhangs the cliffs above the river as well as a treetop walkway that winds you through the tops of ancient cedar trees. Nearing closing time and the beginning of sunset we were the only two left on the bridge overlooking the vast canyon. Suddenly right below us was a massive bald eagle fishing for his dinner in the river….
“It is not so much for its beauty that the forest makes a claim upon men’s hearts, as for that subtle something, that quality of air that emanation from old trees, that so wonderfully changes and renews a weary spirit.”
– Robert Louis Stevenson
Later that evening we decided to indulge in some of Vancouver’s finest sushi and sake. We found a place close by located on the riverfront called Miku. Here they prepare some of the most delicious aburi style sushi that I have ever come across. Five stars in my book.
Early the next morning we packed our bags and said farewell to B.C. but only for a moment. This place will forever hold special meaning…. If you have ever traveled on a whim, promised that you would say yes to the whole experience, opened your heart and mind and returned home a different person you can relate to the feeling. A sense of wanderlust had been fulfilled…