Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Holiday in Yellowknife NWT - Yellowknife Bay Floating Bed and Breakfast

Usually on vacation I have no desire to spend any time in my hotel. I love to wander around / get lost in the destination rather than sit idle surrounded by 4 walls. For me my accommodations are solely for sleep and an expense that I usually begrudge. Chrissy on the other hand really likes different hotels and the experience that each brings. As I was booking this trip I had Chrissy's interests in mind...happy wife = happy life.

While searching for a place to stay in Yellowknife I chanced on amazingly cool looking place, but  I thought surely they would be booked up. Well, thanks to a horrible amount of forest fires in the area and poor air quality tourists weren't really clamoring to visit over the weekend. A couple of promptly responded to emails and it was set. Chrissy and I would be staying in a Bed and Breakfast located in a house boat in Yellowknife. 

We arrived from the airport to the waterside and were picked up by our host (Daniel) in a motorboat to ferry us to our destination. For the first two nights we stayed in the private Studio Room before moving into the main house for our final night in the Northern Room.

Studio on the left and the main house on the right            photo:

Studio Room

The Studio Room suited us perfectly with a full kitchen and a lovely deck to take in the sunset and watch the floatplanes take off.

Northern Room / Main House

For our last night we were a little sad to be leaving our own cabin but were also excited to be moving into the main house and all the new wonders it would offer.

The main house is pretty amazing. I could tell you all about the engineering marvel that it is; operating off of the grid and pinioned into place, but really those things seem secondary to just how cool it looks inside. Our room was decorated in the true northern sense of its nomenclature with mounted rugs of an artic wolf and the thick pelt of a muskox. 

The main living room and kitchen area had tons of funky design elements with my favorite being the horse sculpture 'mounted' above the dining area into the kitchen.

Of course the views remained outstanding.

Travel To Shore

From the onset I loved the privacy and general solitude of the location. The novelty of the location was definitely not lost upon us and we fully embraced the uniqueness of the opportunities it offered including the special commute to the main land by canoe.

Thankfully we had calm weather with the exception of one night which turned our usual 5 minute commute into a 20 minute commute against choppy water. 

We Will Be Back

Everything about the Bed and Breakfast we loved. The hosts were great! The Breakfast was great! The beds and rooms were comfortable! The location was truly outstanding! If/When we return again to Yellowknife we will definitely be staying with our hosts again.

Sunday, October 19, 2014

Holiday in Yellowknife

When searching for a long weekend holiday trip this August the wifey (Chrissy) and I considered quite a few options but they all seemed either too expensive, too far away, or something that we had done before. We wanted something different, something unique. After a considerable amount of scanning the internet it hit me like a bolt of lightning - Yellowknife! I had gone there solo a couple of years back and Chrissy was jealous at the time. A quick glance on the Canadian North (best airline ever!) website showed a very reasonable price for tickets so I booked it.

Note: There was an abundance of forest fires in the area so everything was quite smoky and probably why we got such a good deal on flights. We chose to recognize the fires as positive as the city smelled nicely like a campfire.

Highlights of the trip below:

Old Town and Ramble & Ride Festival

Old Town was our launching pad every morning from our Bed and Breakfast and we spent the majority of our time exploring this area. 

Our first exposure was through a general meandering walk including its farthest point to its highest and then most famous road.

The farthest NE point of Yellowknife

Pilots Monument

Entering Ragged Ass Road

It just happened that while we were visiting the City the annual Ramble and Ride Festival (essentially a street fair within Old Town) was going on. As part of the festival we joined an Architectural Tour of the area hosted by Guy Architects. A key part of the tour was the dichotomy of the housing options that existed in the area historically and today.

I have to admit that while I found some homes to be unattractive but I did appreciate the differences that existed as opposed to the identical houses you see in most communities.

Many artisans call the Old Town area home and operate businesses in the area. To commemorate this years Ramble and Ride they encouraged participants to contribute to a glass mosaic that would be displayed in the area. Eager to learn how to do glass cutting Chrissy and I rolled up our sleeves. 

 Christina's art piece is symbolic of the mountains in Alberta.

My own work is a recreation of a sunset along Greenwater Lake.

Make sure you look for our small contributions to the full mural if you ever find yourself in Old Town!

The biggest attractions in Old Town just might be its restaurants: The Wildcat Cafe and Bullocks Bistro.

On our first day we had lunch at the Wildcat Cafe. It is considered the oldest restaurant in Yellowknife with family style seating. The decor is 'old school' while the meals are more modern.

Later in the weekend we sat at the bar at Bullocks Bistro for what was once called "The Best Fish and Chips in Canada" by Readers Digest magazine. Aside from the great food Bullocks is also synonymous with what could best be called "Saucy Servers" that definitely are not shy and generally say exactly what they are thinking.

After an amazing supper (Chrissy had the Char and I had the Lake Trout) we were commenting on the servers peeling garlic at the end of the bar. Chrissy as a good Ukrainian/Polish girl offered to show them a better way to peel the garlic and they took her up on it. Well soon enough we had peeled a full sleeve of garlic and Chrissy's hand was starting to bruise from pounding the knife blade (her method for peeling). The women behind the bar kept us entertained the whole time and even came outside and took a picture for us as a thank you. They ain't so bad :)

It was probably the best fish we had ever eaten and a great experience to remember. We highly recommend it!

Yellowknife Golf Club

Chrissy is an avid golfer and I like to get out and do a few rounds every year so we jumped at the unique opportunity of playing golf so far up North.  However, to play in Yellowknife you need to know the rules and be prepared that this is not your average course.

Because of the Canadian Shield, grass does not grow like at other golf courses. Even if you had an abundance of topsoil you would have problems with irrigation and piping...So in essence there is no grass. Instead the tee off box and greens are carpeted areas and the fairways are sand where you hit your ball off a piece of turf that you carry with you.

After nine holes we were covered in dust and coughing from the smoke but still thankful that we had the chance to play. Maybe we will come back one year for the Midnight Classic played on the longest day of the year and the near 24 hour daylight.

Cameron Falls

With our holiday being a few days we had time for a small day trip into the area around Yellowknife as opposed to a great North West Territories adventure. From my only other trip to the area I was familiar with Cameron Falls and wanted to enjoy them again so we rented a car and headed out on the road. And what a road it was...just look at the size of the rock where they were expanding the width of the road. 

We arrived with most of our nerves in tact and started the walk along the scenic trails to the lower and upper Cameron Falls. Beautiful!

Other Highlights

Molson Dry at the Gold Range Hotel

 Steel drummers sculpture at Frame Lake

Flags of the NWT on the way to the Prince of Wales Museum

Northern Minotaur sculpture by Monique Robert 

Next post - Our awesome accommodations in Yellowknife co-owned by the artist of Northern Minotaur.

Sunday, October 05, 2014

2 Weddings, 2 Provinces, 1 Day

This summer Chrissy and myself found ourselves in a fortunate, yet somewhat impossible situation. Two very important sets of people to us were getting married and we were invited. But the rub was that they were on the same day and about 500 kilometers away from each other.

We had a delicate decision to make; which wedding should we attend?
  • Do we attend my oldest niece Nikki's wedding - the start of a whole new generation of weddings in our family, or
  • Do we attend Andrea's wedding who is one of Christina's longest term friends (I hesitate to say 'oldest' with women involved) and who asked for Chrissy to be a bridesmaid after standing up at our wedding less than a year ago?
After some debate we decided that Chrissy would support Andrea as a bridesmaid and that I would head out to Saskatoon for my niece Nikki's wedding. In our short time being married we have learned fairly well to compromise; Or at least Chrissy has. After all, her saying yes to marry me was the ultimate compromise possible for a beautiful and successful woman. True to my nature to pursue her, I would not settle. I would endeavour to attend both weddings.

Nikki and Luke 

Leaving Chrissy in Edmonton I headed out early in the week to Saskatoon to hang out with friends and family. 

Mom and Grandkids

Before too long the big day was upon us and we headed out to the Forestry Farm for a late afternoon (4PM) wedding.  The predicted rain showers were seemingly put on pause and the assembled guests were in good spirits as we awaited the arrival of the bride.

Brother and Grandmas of the Bride

The assembled Kehrig clan

Right on time Nikki emerged from behind the trees escorted down the aisle. My brother Lawrence looked quite dapper in his suit escorting her but it went without notice compared to how great Nikki looked (only now do I actually notice just how well Lawrence was put together).

Both Nikki and Luke looked fantastic and their happiness and excitement was apparent to all those in attendance. Everything about the ceremony fit their personalities perfectly.

It's hard not to look at them and see their relative youth. As someone who was a bachelor for some time I am almost jealous that they found each other so early and get to spend so many of their years together. Marriage can be a challenge but certainly we will all be there to support them and they could not have a better couple to emulate then Nikki's parents, Lawrence and Betty.

Andrea and Ryan

Immediately after Nikki and Luke's wedding I raced back to Mom's place to change out of my suit into comfortable driving clothes and I hit the road. I left Saskatoon just before 6 PM heading west on the Yellowhead Highway. At this time Chrissy was just arriving in Vegreville for drinks before supper and had 12 hours under her belt in makeup/hair prep, a ceremony in Edmonton, and pictures at the Ukranian Cultural Heritage Village.

Thanks to my heavy foot I arrived at the hall in Vegreville around 10PM just in time for the first dance of the night.

Andrea and Ryan both looked great but I had my eyes set on a certain bridesmaid. Maybe, if I played my cards right I could get her to come home with me. 

The bride and groom are both of Ukrainian heritage and have both had long association with the Shumka dance group.  As a gift to the happy couple and the ~350 assembled well wishers in attendance we were treated to a special performance.

The athleticism of the dancers was of course outstanding and the fusion of the music, motion and color propped up the energy of the guests for the rest of the night. 

In fact it wasn't long until the guests got in the action forming a kolomyka (soloists dancing in a communal circle). And it wasn't long after that when the bridal party decided to kick up their heels.

Chrissy and I spent the night visiting with friends and the odd slow dance interlude before we realised that it was getting near 2am. With the clean up for the night done we caught the last shuttle bus back to the hotel and were pleasantly surprised when the guests of honor jumped on with us. Pretty impressive that they lasted the whole night!

And so ended the multiple wedding in multiple provinces day. Each wedding was completely different yet lovely and fitting to the couple in its own right. Chrissy and I wish both couples well as we look forward to many anniversary celebrations in the future.