While travelling in Canada recently, I learnt some new things that you really only learn when travelling in a new country. Rather random and in no particular order other than how they came to mind when pen was to paper and fingertips to keyboard, here they are:
A woollen hat is called a Toque
The first time I heard this expression was the first day of our Canada Adventure when my cousin said something along the lines of “has anyone seen my Spiderman toque?”. My brain took a while to comprehend that he had just spoken English, my reaction was: “what the heck’s a ‘too-ke’ and what’s it got to do with Spiderman?!”. As it turned out a toque is a beanie (as the Australians call it) and us Kiwis keep it real simple and just call it a hat! (And yes, my cousin is in his 40s and obsessed with Spiderman! Which explains the Spiderman toque acquired from his much younger nephew!).
Snow tyres are fantastic!
With most of Canada covered in snow in the depths of winter it is fairly common sense to be driving a 4×4 vehicle if you are travelling any great distance. Combine that 4×4 with snow tyres and you are ready to tackle winter road conditions, especially through the Rockies. This Jeep wasn’t our family-favourite vehicle and we were disappointed to find it didn’t have snow tyres…or properly functioning headlights! Not great to find that out driving over a mountain pass in fading light and a snow storm! Luckily my husband is a mechanical engineer and whizz, we found an automotive supply store and he replaced those burnt out bulbs in the blink-of-an-eye! Sadly, still no snow tyres.
Always check what time the bottom ski lift closes
Yep, we got caught out in Revelstoke, British Columbia. It was the first time we had ever experienced a lift closing at 3pm in Canada. And we’ll never forget it! We rocked up to the bottom gondola at 3:02pm expecting another hour of skiing, only to find it was too late, lift closed. A bit grumpy and sore about the whole thing, the teenagers were over it fairly quickly with the thought of swimming in the hotel pool and hot tub. We were not that easily distracted by the thought of swimming in a lukewarm pool and we weren’t feeling sore enough to sit in a steaming hot tub! We ended up grabbing our cameras and heading out on an impromptu photo shoot around Revelstoke, which was awesome! Note to self: in the future always check what time the lifts close when skiing a new field!
Wildlife is not easy to find in the winter
Most of it is sleeping!! Without trying too hard we did still manage to see (in the wild) coyotes, elk and squirrels…lots and lots of squirrels! We’d love to go back to Canada in the summer and see more wildlife but I’m kinda glad we didn’t get up close and personal with a bear…or a cougar! This little guy was busy as a wee bee, ferrying cones up a tree, nibbling away and giving me a talking to at the same time…alright, alright! Calm down, I’m not going to steal your breakfast!!
The camera lens I should’ve packed but didn’t
For our trip to Canada I decided to pack light with my camera gear. Photography was not the focus of this trip, spending time together as a family was. My 35mm lens was packed without hesitation as was my trusty Canon 5D MII. But this is where I hesitated…there was room for one more lens in my small carry-on camera bag…would it be the 17-40mm fabulous for big majestic landscape shots, or the 75-300mm for capturing wildlife from a distance? I packed the 75-300mm knowing that my husband wanted to go scouting for wildlife but as we discovered (see point 4), any wildlife that was awake would require local knowledge and plenty of stalking to find! Note to self: winter in Canada = landscapes, summer in Canada = wildlife. I should’ve packed my 17-40mm lens but I continue to live and learn! Canon New Zealand
Roots is an awesome store
I walked into my first Roots store in London, Ontario and fell in love people, in love! This was my kinda store! Well designed quality made casual and smart-casual clothing, accessories and shoes, very inviting store interior, excellent customer service, founded in 1973 (the best year ever!) and I would say, an all encompassing brand. And the best bit? My Roots experience doesn’t have to stop there, they ship internationally from their US online store! Woop! Woop! Check Roots out for yourselves! Visit the Roots online store with international shipping!
Lake Minnewanka is not pronounced how it reads
Much to the jaw-dropping surprise and then gleeful delight of my teenagers, their mother decided to read aloud from the map how this one reads…ignoring the little voice in my head saying something along the lines of “it will be an indigenous name, it will be pronounced differently to how it looks…”! The beautiful Lake Minnewanka in Canada will be forever more remembered in my family!
Don’t park within 5 metres of a fire hydrant
We still have not seen the hydrant in question that gained us a parking ticket on a street corner in Banff! Buried in snow with no markers visible and undetectable by our foreign eyes, we managed to park in the one free parking space within 5 metres of a fire hydrant. With a parking warden within the immediate vicinity. Quite likely waiting to pounce on unsuspecting tourists like ourselves! Yet again just another thing we learnt the hard way in a different country and needless to say we didn’t park on a street corner for the remainder of our trip!
Beavertails are the best!
According to the teens they are anyway! I never had the pleasure of trying one as there wasn’t a wheat-free, lactose-free version and even if there was, it probably wouldn’t have tasted nearly as good! Beavertails can only really be described as deep fried pastry with various sweet toppings to choose from. The kids went a bit nuts on these! Their favourite toppings were Banana Chocolate (real bananas and melted Hershey’s chocolate!) and Cookies ’n’ Cream. I must admit, they did look the part of a delicious sweet treat, see for yourself!
Once you drive a Dodge Ram nothing else compares
I’m sorry but this time I have to concur, bigger IS better! We fell in love with our friend’s Dodge Ram 1500 while we were based in Canmore, Alberta. The leg room! The head room! The massive well deck! The heated seats! And that touch screen central control panel! All with full-time 4 wheel drive and snow tyres. Sigh. Take. Me. Back. Now! Girly car…meh. Family wagon…meh. Give me a ute like this one any day of the week and twice on Sundays! Sold!