Canoe Camping on Lake Minnewanka, Canada


Who knows what the weather will do on a weekend in May in the Rockies.  You have to chance your luck if you really want to get out there, and after a long cold winter in Calgary you really do want to get back out in summer camping mode.  It was a last minute decision after a glass or two of wine with my outdoor enthusiast mate and before we knew it we were off too MEC to go and pick up our Canoe and Sea Kayak.  The deals are great and you can hire a canoe for $50 for the whole weekend.  After securing the canoe to the car, we were off.

It’s one of the things I have always wanted to do but have never got round to it and it was not going to disappoint.  The only concern we had was whether we had enough food and whether the wind would be up on Lake Minnewanka.

We got lucky as the lake was pretty calm and despite the forecast of rain in the morning we set out for the first campsite LM#8  along the lake.  There are about 4 campsites which are typical back country affairs and everything you need.  This one allows you to hang your food up and apparently this particular site tends to close in the summer as it is at the base of Alymer Pass which is a bit of a bear haven.

The lake was dammed in 1895 and a few times after that so scuba divers have plenty to look at with the old town still sitting under the water.  There’s a great hike around the side of the lake and a popular trail with mountain-bikers but be aware that one part of the trail is closed July 15th until September because of the amount of bear attacks in the last 6 years.  This is essential grizzly habitat.

Messing about on the water

Messing about on the water

The following morning we had tranquil water and we glided back but this lake is known to very choppy and many people have found themselves stranded waiting to get back or having to be towed…so be warned.

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Chapter 1 – She loved New York City


The door was covered in graffiti, I looked at the address again and read it out to the taxi driver.

“Well, this is the address”, he said gently raising his eyebrow.

“Okay, just let us out here”.

View from Central Park

View from Central Park

Next door to the anonymous and derelict looking brick building was a well planted colourful Tom thumb garden.  We gazed in to see a bunch of New Yorican ladies communing round a table – settled in for the evening.

We were told that the door would be unlocked so anxiously walked up to the door and gently pushed.  It opened to the reveal the smallest house in the East Village with painted white stone walls, a loft bed and ceiling windows neatly arranged in this compact house.  This was to be our home for a week in the East Village and it was just perfect.  We had our own little garden which was full of old gravestones left by the original owner -a grave stone cutters yard with the little house being the old shed.

The East Village is buzzing with people, cafes, shops, brownstones, urban gardens – more than enough to keep you occupied for much more than a week.  The story of the Green Thumb gardens itself is inspiring with people claiming back derelict spaces and looking after them as a grassroots way of dealing with social problems.  Manhattan is everything you ever dreamed it would be.  If you hate cities then you will likely hate Manhattan, but if you love cities then you will be swept off your feet by the melting pot of urban culture.

There was a sentiment that I heard a few times that the New Yorkers feel more connected to Europe than the states culturally and for me, being in a US city seeped in history did feel remarkably European.  The only real give away sign that we were in New York was the Woody Allen style ‘fashion’ of wearing the oddest combination of clothes.  God knows, anything goes.

Guggenheim Taxis

Guggenheim Taxis

Our mode of transport was bicycles and this is one of the easiest cities to get around on a bike.   Crossing 110th street on our bicycles past Marcus Garvey Park into Harlem to get a juice from a vegetarian cafe was entering another Manhattan.  Vibrant street culture and the place for buying the most bling trainers.

Smallest House in the East Village

Smallest House in the East Village

So if you are going to stay in New York – don’t stay in a hotel, go and find yourself an eclectic apartment to rent nestled in the East Village.  If you like to jog like the rest of New York then it is quick run down to the waterfront which is just packed with runners.

The thing to remember about New York is that looks can be deceiving as arriving in what looked like a derelict building we found a wonderful little apartment in the heart of New York in a street that I would have been more than happy to settle in for much more than a week.

There are a few places to look for an apartment to rent but I found my place through New York – Craigs List

Some Places to Eat

A small selection of the many places in which we expanded our waistlines for the day.

Holy Basil – A Thai Restaurant in the East Village the most amazing thai food and ambiance

Uptown Juice Bar – Vegetarian Soul Food in Harlem ‘ what more can I say

Caravan of Dreams – Organic Vegetarian Kosher restaurant with the most amazing conversations on life, the universe and relationships going on all around you.

New Films you must see before you go

Manhattan – For those heathens who have not yet seen Woody Allen’s 1979 classic – one of the most romantic films ever made, here is the opening 3 minutes…

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Misty Mornings in Harris Beach State Park, Oregon


I knew about the fog but I didn’t really KNOW about the fog.  Being an English person I pride myself and my nation on our national past time of talking about the weather.  In England the weather is generally damp and Heathrow grey with a splattering of sunshine at odd times of the year that excites the nation into a skin baring frenzy.  Occasionally we have fog too, but nothing beats the fog I witnessed over the 4 days spent at Harris Beach State Park. You always knew it was on it’s way even when the sky was a bold and cloudless blue.

Harris Beach

Harris Beach

And when it came it was just splendid, rearranging the view before your eyes, erasing some of the green rocky islands and creating a blinding whiteness and movement in the sky that was just dazzling, swirling around the handful of people brave enough to be in the water and making the crashing waves rising up the beach appear to be coming out of the void.

And then 20 minutes later the huge rocks jutting out the misty landscape start to re-appear again sometimes slowly and sometimes fast.  These small islands are home of all sorts of life including harbor seals who hang out on the rocks placing bets on how long it will take the fog to hurry away to the next beach.  There are other beachs too, drive about 4 miles up the road there are some really deserted beaches full of driftwood where you can roam to your hearts desire jumping from one beach to the next.

Harris Beach View

Harris Beach View

The campground here is great too.  We just about squeezed in with a booking on July 4th so it was max’ed out, but the sites were all roomy with hot showers and even an iceman delivering ice each evening.  There are also lots of trails, albeit short to keep you entertained and the hard packed sand on the beach proved a great running track.

The Oregon coast is a place that I shall come back too as I know I have just tasted a little of the wildness that is on offer and no doubt coming back at different times of the year would bring an altogether different experience.

How to Get There

2 miles north of Brookings of highway 101

Where to Stay

You can’t beat Harris Beach Campground

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