Sunday, June 29, 2008

Quebec City celebrates 400

Old Quebec celebrates its 400th birthday

This weekend we hit the road for Quebec City to help celebrate her 400th birthday. We arrived around noon hour and after a quick bite to eat we headed out to explore Chute-Montmorency (aka Montmorency Falls).


What a sight! The falls are 272 feet high and 98.5 feet higher than the Niagara Falls. By the time the water cascades over the edge and on the rocks below it is nothing but a fine mist floating on the breeze (soaking my camera lens).

We managed to find a free parking spot up above the falls and from there we walked across the suspension bridge and then down down down the 487 stairs to the bottom. Only myself and one other daring soul in the group headed out to the closest point to the falls for the ceremonial soaking. Luckily it wasn't winter time when the mist from the falls actually freezes to form a 100ft ice cone for climbing and tobogganing. We'll have to come back to check that out.


The next day we drove towards Old Quebec finding an awesome parking spot at the Plains of Abraham. From here we spent the rest of the day hiking the Plains and then down and around La Citadelle to the Chateau Frontenac and finally down even further to Lower Town Old Quebec.

Posing by the Chateau Frontenac Samuel de Champlain
Horse and carriage Marching into the Citadelle

Chateau Frontenac
Chateau Frontenac

Just east of the Funicular we found another set of stairs leading down to the famous Lower Town of Old Quebec. After snapping the prerequisite Chateau Frontenac photos we headed through Porte Prescott to the top of Breakneck Stairs and Rue Du Petit Champlain. This is the area famous for its Parisian like atmosphere and having spent some time walking the back streets of Paris I would have to agree. The two main differences being the scale (can you guess which one is larger?) and the dress of those strolling the streets (can you guess which is more fashionable?). Quebec scores points for the lack of dog doo that tends to litter the Paris sidewalks in the late hours of the day before the morning street cleaners attack.

Rue Du Petit Champlain
Recreating a photo from our Eyewitness Travel Guide.

Quebec is easily one of Canada's top ten most beautiful cities and there is definitely more to see and do here than we were able to fit into our 3 day trip - heck we didn't even get out to see the whales. Guaranteed we'll be back...

Top of Rue Du Petit Champlain
Cheers from the top of Breakneck Stairs.

Monday, June 16, 2008

Biker dude and pimped out doggy

We always manage to spot strange and interesting sights when we're down in the US of A. This next photo was taken on our way to Saturday night's moe. concert at the Saranac Brewery. I think you'll agree it's hilarious.

After agreeing to a photo he quickly pointed out that they had matching helmets and reached out to grab his off his Honda motorbike parked on the sidewalk. Priceless.

Biker dude and dog pimped out
Super zoom on the biker dog.
Biker Dog decked out

If you peer through the dog's goggles it looks like it's squinting at you and sticking it's tongue out. Likely smoked the poor bitch up in order to get it to agree to be all tricked out for the night. Too funny.

Way behind but still tied for second were the furniture store called, "Oooh Yeahhh Affordable Furniture" and the "Dick Enders Law Office". Hardly worth mentioning after snapping the biker dog pic though.

Oooh Yeahhh furniture store in Utica, NY Dick Enders at Law

Saturday, June 14, 2008

moe. in flames at Saranac Brewery

moe. Saranac poster

This weekend was a mini moe. fest at the Saranac Brewery in Utica, NY (aka F.X. Matt Brewery). Utica lies about 45 minutes east of Syracuse making this trip a total of 4 hours from Ottawa. Well within the acceptable range to check out back to back nights of moe.

A few months ago we were contemplating what to do for our annual adults only weekend (meaning no kids, eh) when I tossed in the option of seeing moe. play in Utica. Originally I was planning to attend regardless but when everyone jumped on the idea of a road trip and concert I quickly bought the tickets and booked a hotel before anybody had a chance to back out.


The weekend forecast was for severe thundershowers both Friday night and Saturday but in the end we lucked out with perfect outdoor concert weather as the highs reached a muggy 33°C and not a lick of rain.

Normally this would be too hot to hop in the mosh pit but keep in mind that these shows were sponsored by a brewery company. At $2.50 a pint and a buck a soda/water there was no fear of dehydration. The weekend fave's were Saranac's Pomegranate Wheat and the Orange Cream Soda. And the "pit ham sandwich" with onions and peppers was an absolute hit all around too.

Al Schnier (guitars and vocals)
Al Schnier
Al Schnier Al Schnier

And to think that this weekend was nearly a bust after a very serious fire at the brewery only two weeks earlier. Check out the video here.

Too close a call for my liking. Fortunately the fire was determined to be accidental unlike several others in the last month that were deliberately set. Apparently Utica was once referred to as the "arson capital" and the last such fire was on the same Saturday that we were in town. Yikes. (purely coincidental I might add)

Rob Derhak (bass and vocals)
Jim Loughlin (percussion), Rob Derhak (bass), Vinnie Amico (drums)
Rob Derhak of moe. Chuck Garvey of moe.

The area surrounding our hotel was definitely not the best part of Utica. In an attempt to find the "better side" we decided to go for a little tour. We soon found ourselves leaving the city limits and rolling through the nearby town of Clinton and its neighbor Hamilton College which gave us a good indication of where the well-to-do folks were living.

Chuck Garvey (guitar and vocals)
moe. Chuck
Chuck Garvey of moe. moe. Chuck

As for moe., well they were smoking but after my experience at moe.down last summer I expected no less. The only thing I would ask for would be more - although in their defense they did play about 2 1/2 to 3 hours each night. Unlike moe.down's Snowridge ski hill, Utica apparently has a noise by-law or two that we all had to adhere to. Oh well, it did help ensure that we were all well rested for Sunday's long drive back home to celebrate Father's Day with the kids.

Cheers moe.!! (insert raised glass of Saranac here)


Sunday, June 08, 2008

Euro 2008 and the Group of Death

Once again I get to sit on the edge of my seat watching the Netherlands play in another football (that's soccer eh) championship. This year it's the UEFA European Cup and they've found themselves in what is officially being called "The Group of Death". Group C: Netherlands, Italy, France, Romania.

I have made an attempt to warn everyone in my family about potential mood swings followed by binge drinking and flashes of fluorescent orange.

Saturday, June 07, 2008

GAT hike up the Eardley Escarpment

Hiking down the GAT escarpment

Today was sweltering hot. The temperature officially reached 39°C with humidex making it the hottest day of the year... so far. That said we weren't about to let a little sun and humidity (or bugs) keep us from celebrating our friend Dave's 40th birthday in the GAT.

Dave, Ken, Diane, and I all hit the trail just after 9:30 (temp was already 34) and proceeded to follow the creek up to the Yellow Box trail. Bugs were out in force but some DEET and a steady pace kept them at bay until we broke though to the first opening where we were greeted by a great view, and a welcome breeze. Bugs be gone.

Ken and Diane check out the view
First view of the day
Ottawa River Valley
The View

After a short lunch break we continued up the trail and around to the next look out point. The breeze had now graduated to a steady wind and the view was even more spectacular. Time for another snack and a pint for Kenmore and I while Dave enjoyed a second Coke Zero and Diane polished off her gazpacho. To each their own, I suppose.

Round the pond

After being buried in a near-record setting snowfall the GAT was once again teeming with signs life. We spotted lots of spring wildflowers, a variety of bugs, a deer carcass or two, frogs, a couple of garter snakes, a red-tailed hawk, and several turkey vultures.

Photo by Dave.
Gatineau jungle
Hiking down the GAT escarpment Garter snake

The day wrapped up with the usual stop at the local frites truck. Diane opted for the triple chocolate brownie ice cream while the guys enjoyed a round of medium fries. In celebration of his birthday, Dave washed his down with a Slushie. Yum!

A great day for a celebration... Happy Birthday Dave!!
Happy Birthday Zart!