The Final Foray Through France

10/04/21

We awoke to a sunny morning, prepared ourselves as best we could in the small-ish quarters and drove back into town. Mike somehow recalling the location of a bakery we’d passed the day before 🤪

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A display case full of delicious looking temptations was fully stocked, as were the shelves of bread behind the counter.

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What a way to start the day 😍 
We walked back to the RV, goodies in hand, walking by the ever eye-catching scenery.

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Much that we saw, being old walls built from hand-picked and assembled stones. 
The labour that was put into the things we so casually pass by, causing one to stop in total awe if you pause long enough to consider what it is you’re actually seeing 😳

Mike drove us to the waterside in Fort – Mahon Plage, so we could eat our goodies with a view.

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Not eating them outside, as the wind was pelting sand around and causing a general feeling of unpleasantness 😜

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Once we licked the crumbs off our fingers, our drive began again.

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And I didn’t even relocate to the ‘back seat’ 🤪 
We stopped at a grocery store, as what trip of ours is really complete unless we overspend in a local grocer ?? 🤪 
This was just a small section of their chip selection.

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Please take the time to read all of those vastly different flavours 😅🙈
A drastic change from Holland, where they have very few chip flavours (the main one being ‘paprika’) compared to many places.

We journeyed on through little, and large French towns. Pausing at places with viewing opportunities as necessary, slowly moving back towards Holland.

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We considered going to Europe’s largest aquarium in Boulongne-Sur-Mer, but when we drove by, they were closed 😕 
Making that probably once in a lifetime opportunity, a non opportunity 🤪

We went into the city then, Mike managing to find a parking spot for the RV, so we could walk around and explore a little via foot.

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We walked into what would have been the old city center.

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Homes, stores and their massive cathedral, all being built within the confines of a protective stone wall. 
People still living and working inside the existing walls, where no cars are allowed, but now with a thriving city also continuing on outside of those walls. Whether because it was Monday or afternoon in France, or both, finding an open place to eat, was once again a little tricky.
We finally found a pizza place and ordered a margarita pizza to go, taking it back to eat in the RV. 

The thick, chewy mozzarella atop a thin but still doughy crust, not at all failing to satisfy 🤤

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Two murals were spotted while driving through town, the man in the yellow raincoat was painted by a Canadian artist 

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One more bakery was stopped at for good measure before we left town.

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We paused at Fort d’Ambleteuse, not realizing that’s where we were headed, but not being disappointed that it’s where we ended up for a little leg stretch.

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The rocky shoreline was wandered upon for a little while, and then a little while longer once a couple of shells were spotted, as the search had to become a little more serious in its pursuit 🤓

 

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We also gathered a special little collection of rocks from there, specifically for Lake 😉 

B85682C2-9D60-4CAF-AB32-6D1308B1EB79A toy or souvenir had been looked for, for Lake but nothing had caught our eye. He doesn’t love stuffed animals and hardly any other toys for that matter, but we truly did think he’d appreciate the rocks. Not just because they were easy to get as well as being free 🤪

Back at the RV we took a short siesta, since Mike planned to continue driving later into the day. 
Our next stop after restarting the drive, was at a the Calais Canadian War Cemetery.

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We signed the guest book and took a moment to ponder the graves. 

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Being struck by the ages of so many young men, and their sacrifices.

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Wissant was the coastal town we stopped in next, wanting to find a place to eat.

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A dolphin was the symbol for a street crossing and I wish they were the symbol used everywhere 😅

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We just missed the time for food being served and were thus stuck with the drink and dessert menu options, so an in house pink lemonade and two crepes were ordered.

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They were tasty, just not overly filling 

Next stop – Cap Blanc-Nez cliffs.

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Pretty self explanatory, cliffs, by the waters edge.

 

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It’s actually the closest point of France to England, and The White Cliffs of Dover can be seen on a clear day.

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We had to walk a decently lengthy path to get to the steps that lead down to the actual beach/cliff area.

 It looked like it would be overly far to journey down and really go to the waters edge, but in the end we went further than expected. 

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Our wandering feet and the feeling of adventuring taking over 😉

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Accumulating 10,250 some steps by the end of the day, which for a day that was spent driving more than not, isn’t too shabby in my opinion 😉

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Our feet then took a rest, as our bellies took over and the search for food began once again. 
We passed this impressively constructed house/fence as we drove towards town. 

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I don’t really feel like reliving this next part, but for your entertainments sake, I will 🤪

A menu outside of a restaurant was read, and it seemed like a decent price for what would come with the meal.
A starter, entrée and dessert.  
We figured that since we had an upcoming anniversary and when would we try a semi fancy restaurant during a stint in France again, so why not?

The meal began, with duck.

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But not at all the duck that I had hoped for 🙈 
Two slabs of cold, fat sprinkled, meatloaf looking duck, topped with a semi sweet pickle, was placed in front of me and thus began the feeling of having made a fatal mistake 🤪 
I took my fork and carefully removed a small corner, bringing it slowly to my mouth and using much inner courage, ate it.
It was not ‘bad’ but nor was it what I would call ‘good’. 
Mike too tried it and he then admitted that after reading the French menu, he had thought the duck would either be a soup type dish, or what I got 🤪  
I wish he’d have mentioned that fact sooner.

Neither of us had any desire to eat the duck, so there it sat. Awkwardly untouched, catching the curious eyes of the waiters and waitresses that passed, unsure if we were done, or simply not hungry. 
I excused myself to use the restroom, hoping beyond hope that the waitress would come whilst I was away, but she did not.

I found this situation very uncomfortable 🤪🙈

She finally came, asking if anything was wrong and we explained that we were simply unlearned tourists whom hadn’t expected that type of dish 🤪 
A long wait then ensued. 
As people around us were served and we waited, and waited. 
Our plates were finally brought out, and then quickly taken away! As they were for another table 🤪

So we waited some more 🙈

Finally our dishes did come, Mikes lamb shank being pretty tasty, my fish being fine, just a little boring.

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We never got the wifi password given to us either, and when you’re traveling without any, have routes to plan and a child to check in on, that is a point against the establishment as well. 
It was not the worst dining experience, but it just slowly slid into a less and less pleasant one, considering the price and expectations and it just wasn’t the happiest feeling note to end the last meal of the trip on 🤪 
We got out of there as quickly as we could, which was not very quickly at all, and hit the road 🤓

Mike then admitted he’d thought all along that we should have just eaten at the next McDonald’s, as he’d rarely been impressed by food when in France.
Speak your thoughts out loud next time husband! 
🤪😂

By then it was dark out, and Mike decided he would just drive until he got tired, find a place to park us for the night and call it good. 
I retired around 11 or so I think, and he went on until 1 ish I believe…

The Last Hurrah…

Day 5 – July 27th, 2020

 

Mike had told me to sleep in and rest up and I figured that wouldn’t happen, as 6/6:30 had been my usual wake up time.
I did wake up around 5:30 and told myself I MUST sleep… which I then did, until 9 🤪🙈
Which was maybe a little excessive for the plans for our day ahead but Mike said he didn’t dare wake me since I’m never usually able to sleep in 😏

Because of covid our hotel wasn’t serving the usual breakfast, so we had to head out to find substance.
‘Graze’ was where we settled in at and we got the Farm Fresh Eggs Benedict to share.

A few more little shops were entered as we meandered back to the vehicle and then we drove to find one or two more sights to let our eyes feast on, before leaving for Calgary and eventually, home.

We drove up to this view and I’m not sure of what it was called but we sat with our feet in the fresh water for a few moments while coming up with a game plan for where to go next.

I wanted to see Grassi Lakes but the only way we could see to get to them, posed a lot more steep, loose stone lined paths then I felt comfortable attempting to undertake.

So, we waved farewell to Canmore and drove on to Calgary, needing to make it in time to eat at ‘Monki Bistro’ before it closed 🤓

From mountain ranges and lakes, to roadways, vehicles and cityscapes… both unique and enjoyable to gaze upon in their own way… neither my favourite 😉😜

If you’re in Calgary, PLEASE go eat at ‘Monki Bistro’ and think of us 🙌🏻🤤
I ordered the reverse French toast and Mike got the brisket poutine.

They were both potentially flavourful but in the best way possible.

I’m the type of person that if a dish is supposed to have sauce, I want it to be swimming in it and these were both capable of being afloat 😉👌🏻

Leaving a restaurant utterly satisfied and pleased is such a good feeling. Like when you find something on a super sale or feast your eyes on an unexpected beauty.
Think I’m being dramatic? Maybe… but I don’t think I  am and we really, REALLY like food 😁

We needed to stop at IKEA to get blackout blind for the babes room, so we did a decently fast walk through of the whole place.
I found some smaller sized plates I wanted (been searching for probably a year, no joke 🙄) but of course, they were out of stock 😏
Nordstrom Rack and Homesense were also pursued and finally, we left the city.

Much later than planned… our estimated home time being in the wee AM hours and we still had ‘Drumheller’ to stop at… (but we’re young and free so that wasn’t a problem… right?) 😅

I’d told Mike we should really stop there. I’d been years ago and figured I could use a refresher but I thought he would think it was pretty interesting.
Turns out he took it on faith and didn’t look up a thing about it, so he was pretty shocked when suddenly we descended down into a totally different terrain than moments before😜

On our way to Horse Thief Canyon, we drove by ‘The Little Church’.

Which was much littler than I’d even expected😅
Surprisingly, Mike actually fit inside and it was a fun little stop… the slogan of the church being, ‘Seating ten thousand people – six at a time‘… literally, as it had six mini pews inside.

Horse thief canyon certainly evokes images to match its name… making it easily imaginable to visualize herds of horses racing through the valleys, cowboys with lassos overhead, thundering behind them 😉

Driving quickly because of the soon setting sun, we went to find the Hoodoos.

‘A hoodoo (also called a tent rock, fairy chimney, or earth pyramid) is a tall, thin spire of rock that protrudes from the bottom of an arid drainage basin or badland. Hoodoostypically consist of relatively soft rock topped by harder, less easily eroded stone that protects each column from the elements.’

The earthy tones and warm weather, making for perfect exploration inducing conditions…but we had McDonald’s to eat back in the truck and home to return to, so we didn’t take that exploration vibe too seriously 🤪

 

I made up my mind to stay awake with the husband until we arrived home and besides some slow/heavy eye blinks around Saskatoon, (1hr away from home) I did it 🤓

We never solidified a name for the child but we did narrow the list from three, to two 🤪
Not my favoured outcome but better than zero progress made I suppose 😏

In the end, it was a great trip ☺️💗

The driving having been so broken up for the most part, that I never endured THAT much discomfort, we had mostly beautiful weather, a lot of good food and for the most part, pleasant company* 😉

*I’m referring to myself and my husband for those who could think I was making mention of the friends/family we met up with as perhaps unpleasant, which was not the case 🤪

The time allotment was good too… we aren’t usually super slow lookers/observers etc. so we got to see a lot, in a semi short amount of time and also get a good idea of what we’d want to see again, if ever.
I’d say Jasper and the drive from Jasper to Banff, was our favourite part.
I’m sure there is much to explore around Banff itself but by that time we were fading a little and it was also so busy with people, it lost the allure a little, same to be said for Canmore.
Though we had much less time in Banff/Canmore so maybe we just needed a little more time to find their Jems 😉

We pulled up to our little home around 3:00 am, crawled into bed post haste and awoke to a sunshine filled +22 by 8:00 am.
The official end of the ‘babymoon’ and the start of unpacking, yard upkeep and checking off the rest of the ‘pre-babe to-do’s’ 😉

 

 

Seeking Out Sources Of Delight

Day 4 – July 26th, 2020

We slept in a little bit and decided to forgo the whole ‘breakfast out’ experience, as we had enough snacks to get us going until we needed lunch on our journey from Jasper to Canmore.

The first stop along the route was at Athabasca falls.

The tumultuous water came crashing down, being pounded against the canyon walls below, spraying us with mist and bathing the viewpoints in a coolness only rushing mountain waters like that can bring.

We had beautiful weather and the time passed quickly with the many interesting views to be taken in along the way.

We paused at anything we deemed necessary and after driving past some icy aqua shades of water that ran through a ‘field’ of flat rocks and clay, we turned around to go explore there awhile… because I really wanted to, even though there were no easy pull offs 🤪🙈 Mountains are cool (Hah, get it? ‘cool’🤪) but it’s the water bits with the innumerable shades of blue, that never fail to make my heart pitter patter.

The water was as refreshing as one would imagine, ice cream headache style numbness taking over in seconds, since it was actual run off from the nearby Columbian Icefields 😅
I’m glad I got to dip my toes in it though… even if rocks aren’t as gentle on my aged feet as they once seemed 😜

We may or may not have ended up with two small/medium rocks in the truck cab as natures souvenirs… if one can’t find shells, one can always find rocks and sticks 😉👌🏻

We stopped for lunch at the Glacier Discovery Centre.
It was wonderfully sunny out, so we enjoyed a tasty (and surprisingly affordable) poutine out on the patio, looking out to the Athabasca Glacier.

Enjoying the sunshine but also getting that refreshing breeze off the nearby ice.

Not far from there, we had to get a little splash of gas at the Saskatchewan River Crossing pit stop, the only gas station between Jasper and Banff.

Driving over the North Sask. River bridge, brought with it slightly different coloring and surroundings than the usual Saskatchewan river sidelines we get to see 😉

The wildflowers/weeds that dot the ditches and hills make for such nice little sprinklings of color and this lake was a gorgeous backdrop.

A color I don’t think I could ever tire of seeing.

‘Blue color is everlastingly appointed by the deity to be a source of delight’ – John Ruskin

When we reached Banff area, we were going to attempt to see Lake Louise but that turned out to be a sight we shall have to save for next time.
People and vehicles wreathed all around, parking lots were filled, traffic control directing everyone everywhere and no semi easy way was available to spot the landmark lake.
It was disappointing but we didn’t lack seeing beauty on the drive up till that point, so we continued on, pausing awhile in Banff itself.

We sat by the Bow Falls awhile, enjoying the sunshine and planning out what we wanted to do before heading to our place of rest in Canmore. I wanted at least one souvenir sweater or shirt as I never actually buy those type of things and one was actually immediately found 👍🏻

Mike had gotten us a room at the ‘Creek Side Villa’ and the modern rustic interior immediately charmed us.

We used our room as a menu searching location before heading out for dinner at ‘Blake’.

I wasn’t really impressed with my meal (which aside from pretty much being fancy bacon, was also missing the sauce) or the service, so it felt like a bit of a let down and after making mention of it to our server, she casually said she’d let the management know and just handed us our bill 😏

We drove to a little parking lot to look at an advertised ‘Quarry Lake’ and immediately left it… as it was the least attractive/most people packed little body of water we’d yet to see 😜
There were many elk grazing all around the area though, being thoroughly adjusted to the presence of humans and not at all perturbed by the many people ‘taking pictures of the deers’ as one man behind us stated 🤪

I was feeling pretty sore and we were tired of being on the go, so we decided to relax at the hotel the rest of the evening.
Enjoying our room, AC and a king size bed to watch movies in until we got sleepy 😋👍🏻

Campside Camaraderie

Day 3 – July 25th, 2020

The campers hadn’t planned on having an early morning so neither did we, sitting down at our chosen breakfast place around 10:00 am.
That wasn’t really by choice though, as we had entered and left three other spots before finally settling on our perch at ‘Sunhouse Cafe’… we learnt from the previous evening to be happy with the menu pre settling 😉

The ambiance was very much what we enjoy and the presentation was lovely 👌🏻

Downside, small meals… upsides, tasty, enjoyable atmosphere, good view and nice company 😉

A grocery store was found next and some provisions for the day ahead, purchased.
More campfire sitting, campground walking and visiting ensued for the rest of the morning/early afternoon.

Mike warmed us up some thick slices of buttered sugar bread over the fire, which he’d purchased at ‘Dutch Delicious’ in Edmonton.

Sugar bread being a sweet loaf we purchased often when living in Holland.

A mini walk was taken along the lakes edge, after which I retreated to the truck to stretch out on the back seat.

Cousins catching up.


An ice pack on my ribs and tennis ball beneath my back #comfortable 🤪 It turned into a nap… not all together unexpectedly, nor unfortunately 😉

When I awoke, it was nearly time for supper, which was created by one of the girls on the camping trip and also a couple steaks grilled by Mike and another fellow.

It was all very enjoyed ☺️👌🏻

After dinner, some of us headed off to go on a simple hike near the campground.
We drove a little too far and had to turn around but that was only a good thing because two bull elk were spotted munching alongside the highway.

Their relaxed grass chewing, healthy looking coats and velvet covered antlers, making for a scenic pause indeed ☺️

We found the ‘Yellowhead Mountain Trail’ and began the ‘supposedly’ 2 km trek.
Which was nearly immediately more of an uphill incline than not 😬 I don’t know about anyone else but it didn’t really inspire hope for what awaited us and my heavy breathing had me deeply questioning my abilities 🤪

Hubster picked me some little bush bouquets… they gently got discarded along side the path, as I needed my hands to continue the journey 😉

How hard could 2 km really be though? Also, spot the Mike in the above photo.

Turns out, it could be decently tiring 😂

Onward and upward we went, slowly spreading out a little more, each taking their own pace and finding traction along the mud slick inclines, hopping a couple streams and trying to observe the ‘path’ through 4.5 ft foliage.
The three of us who were a little ways ahead, were starting to question how much farther we should go, when the light at the end of the hike began to shine through some thinning trees 🤪

We called to the others that they were almost there so don’t turn back and then we proceeded to take some rapid fire photos, look at what we came to see and turn around to begin retreating back down, due to the setting sun.

As we hadn’t expected the sun to have time to set, prier to starting said hike 😏

One minor slip caused some leg blemishes for me and Mike didn’t love the downward decline with his knee hinting about its ‘less than prime condition’.
Unfortunately one of our hiking members had a rough go of it coming down, due to some pre existing knee problems but thankfully made it and was quickly given Tylenol, water and a chair and hot water bottle near the fireside back at camp.

All in all, it was a bit of an adventure and really, who wants to talk about the simple little, totally doable walk that they took anyways? 😉

I attempted to look up the hike details later and from what I could see, it truly was only 1.22 km there and back but this flatlander obviously has no experience with mountain side explorations 😛

Black diamond being ‘very difficult’ *…though truthfully that could be referring to the ENTIRE hike and not just the part up to the viewpoint, where we called it a day 😉

We again spent the last evening together by the fireside (luckily with a little less smoke inhalation) and we didn’t officially part ways until around midnight, bidding the friends goodbye until next time.
Getting us back to our hostel and in bed by 1:00 ish.

Bed hasn’t felt so good to fall into, freshly showered and comfortably clad, in sometime 🙌🏻

Gaining – Both Weight & Elevation

Day 2 – July 24th, 2020

It was a fresh morning with some light sprinklings of rain as we left our Airbnb room and headed off to find breakfast.

We decided to take up our old habit of sharing one order of food, not even for the sake of prices but more so we can eat more flavours per day 🙈
Stopping one place, eating, moving on to the next and so on 😉👌🏻

‘Toast Culture’ had many good reviews and an appealing Instagram page so we were looking forward to it.
Though the service was good and the food fine, it wasn’t that burst of flavour we’d hoped for.
Having to generously salt and pepper the food and paying $17.00 for the one dish that was mainly a bowl of potatoes.
It was fine and we FELT good after eating the fresher style of meal apposed to some fried platter but it just didn’t impress us as hoped I suppose.

Since we weren’t really filled from that experience, I looked up cafes/bakeries nearby… the desire for a ‘coffee like’ drink ( since hot coffee lost its appeal over a month ago #pregnantproblems) was strong, I think due to the slightly chilly morning.

‘Chocorrant’ was found a moment away and we readily ordered their lemon meringue and crème brûlée croissants and a hazelnut coffee.

The croissants were delicious 🙌🏻🤤

Just like croissants we’d have eaten in Europe but with the added enjoyment of flavourful fillings, of two of our favourite things.
They made up for the breakfast bowl 😉

We could then begin our 4.5 hr drive to Jasper.
I succumbed to sleeping the first 2 hours away, pretty quickly.
Mike listened to another ‘Father Gilbert’ and said he actually didn’t mind it… he’s not usually big on audio books/radio dramas but having nothing to do but drive or talk to a sleeping wife, must have set the right tone 🤪

We paused for a bathroom/refreshment break at Starbucks in Hinton and that’s also when I pulled out ‘the butt pillow’ 😂
I borrowed it from my sister, (not as gross as it could unintentionally sound 🙈) who’d used it during their road trip from The States to Canada back when they moved.
It’s a gel type pillow that is meant to raise the sitting position for short people, so that the back of the user actually sits in the right spot on the vehicle seats.
It definitely helps 👌🏻

Compressions socks were also fought back on… not the easiest thing at any point in life but for sure not with a baby belly, in a vehicle, when the small person is up in your ribs. Mike may have been roped into sock putting on/removing during future wears 😜

Mountains finally began edging nearer but we didn’t see a single animal besides some fenced in Bison way back at the beginning of Alberta 😜

Personal size fruit cups that mumsie had sent with us were eaten…

I only had my little gold spoons from home to bring with and those, along with my silk pillowcase, made for a rather posh looking road trip moment I thought 😉😋

We detoured a couple minutes off our main route, stopping at Annette Lake, as I’d read it was a good one to do a little walking at if one desired and that was an accurate description.

With beautiful blue and turquoise waters, sunshine’s and mountains in the foreground, it made for a lovely ‘first stop’ and we wondered down the paved path alongside it for a little stretch.

 

We got to our hotel in Jasper not long after, ‘HI Jasper’.

A newly built hostel style complex and it was done so very nicely.
Clean simple lines, lots of windows, a nice dining/shared kitchen area if you needed and our room, though a little sterile, was clean and spacious 👍🏻

We rested there awhile, stretching our vehicle contorted bodies while searching for where we wanted to try going for supper.

We went to The Raven.

First that is 😜

The prices seemed high, which we pretty much expected but none of the meals really jumped out at us either.
By that point it felt awkward to leave as we’d already been served our waters, so we ordered what sounded like a very tasty Brie and baguette appetizer. Brie, rhubarb date chutney, candied pecans, garlic butter spread baguette and pickled grapes. It was very little but VERY flavour filled and tasty, if not actually filling 😜

We walked around town a little more, trying to decide if we should share another meal elsewhere, get snacks and head to the campsite where we’d be meeting friends for the evening or if we needed more food at all.
Turns out we did need more and it was found at ‘Alba’ 🤓

Mich got his ‘once a trip’ calamari order and I wanted gnocchi but decided to try the duck pasta instead, since I can neither cook nor easily order duck easily at home.

Both meals were very enjoyable 👌🏻
Mikes being crispy little strips with a zesty lemon garlic sauce instead of chewy rings and my pasta having a savoury, brown gravy type sauce.

We did not share meals that time and our stomachs protested due to that fact but not in an all together displeasing way 😜

Before leaving town we found a pop machine to fill up a reusable plastic bag boughten from a dollar store at home.
It worked perfectly as an ice pack, as was my intention but I wasn’t sure it would work as hoped 🤪

Standing, laying and walking don’t cause too much pain but sitting has proven to result in much upper back/rib pain for over the last month, so I’d been concerned about the icing options.

Leaving Jasper we headed to find the Lucerne Campground to meet up with our friends and family. We drove too far due to lack of cell reception for our google maps but by doing so we got to see the picturesque ‘Moose Lake’ ☺️

By the time we got to the campground, it wasn’t long until the sun starting retreating and we spent our evening around the campfire and under stretched out tarps, due to light smatterings of rain.
Suffering from smoke inhalation and enjoying the conversation until heading back to our hostel after midnight.

Which is probably one of the latest nights I’ve had during this whole pregnancy 🙈

Mountain Drives And Italian Vibes

Thursday Sept 9th –

 

The business man left for customer meetings and the wife living leisurely lay in bed a few hours more 😋

Then made use of the desk with a view💻

Continue reading “Mountain Drives And Italian Vibes”

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