Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Ile d'Orleans, Quebec

ile d'orleans, st-francois lookout towerIf you go to Quebec City, consider visiting Ile d' Orleans, about 10 miles up the St. Lawrence River. Once you cross the bridge to the island, follow the 40 mile Royal Road. It takes you all around the outside of the island, with great views of old homes, vineyards, and farms.

la moulin de st-laurentWe enjoyed lunch at Le Moulin de St-Laurent, a restaurant located in a renovated flour mill from the early 18th century. From there, we drove to a look out tower in St-Francois where we climbed the stairs for a great view of the island, and the hope that it would burn off the calories from lunch. The tower also gave us a view of Gross Ile, the quarantine station for the Port of Quebec from 1832-1937. Thousands of Irish immigrants were buried on Grosse-Ile during the typhoid epidemic of 1847.
Our last stop was at the cider house Domaine Steinbach in St-Pierre. We sampled ciders, including ice cider (like ice wine), vinegars, mustards and jellies. My favorites were the Thyme and Garlic Cider Vinegar, the Honey Mustard and the Apple and Cinnamon Jelly. The mustard and jelly went home with us, but I worried about the Vinegar leaking. I regret that decision now. We also tasted an incredible raspberry wine that made you think "chocolate" when you tasted it. I wish I brought some of that home, too. I would have paired it with some decadent chocolate treat.

We were on a guided tour, and while it can be nice to let someone else handle all the details, I missed the freedom of traveling on our own. I would have loved to stop and explore the small towns that we drove through. I enjoyed having a guide who shared stories about the island and answered our questions, but a guidebook would have been enough for me. We also could have asked questions at the local tourist office and shops we stopped in.

Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Montmorency Falls, Quebec

Montmorency Falls Park, or Parc de la Chute-Montmorency, is just outside Quebec City, near the bridge that takes you to Ile d'Orleans. We combined a visit to the falls with a tour of the island. At the park, you have the option of climbing 487 steps up to the falls, or taking the cable car. Once at the top, you can walk out on a suspension bridge right over the top of the falls.

Although not as wide as Niagra Falls, Montmorency is about 98 feet higher. Besides admiring the falls, you can take advantage of the hiking trails or bike paths, picnic tables and playground, shops, and a snack bar and dairy bar.

The park is open year-round, and pictures in the visitor center show an incredible ice wall in the winter. In the summer, the falls are host to an international fireworks competition, Les Grands Feux Loto-Québec. In 2006, the competition had 118,500 spectators. This year, five countries are competing from July 21-August 4, with the grand finale on August 8th.

Monday, May 28, 2007

Wall Murals of Quebec City

Petit-Champlain Mural, Quebec City Wall MuralAs we explored Quebec City, we saw several murals painted on buildings. It was fun to walk down a street, turn a corner, and be surprised by one of these beautiful trompe-l'oeil paintings. One of them was on a building on rue du Petit-Champlain and is called... the Petit-Champlain Mural. It illustrates the history of the Quartier Petit Champlain.

Quebec City Wall MuralAnother mural is the 5 story Quebec City Mural, on the corner of Notre Dame, at the bottom of Cote de la Montagne. It shows 400 years of Quebec history. Be sure to follow the links to more information about these two murals.

Hotel-Dieu de Quebec MuralThis last mural was on the Hotel-Dieu de Quebec, a hospital on Cote du Palais. Opened in 1639 by Duchess d’Aiguillon and the Augustines hospitali√®res de Dieppe, the Hotel-Dieu de Quebec was the first hospital established north of Mexico. The mural depicts the lives of the doctors and nurses on two sides of the building.

The murals reminded me of the trompe-l'oeil mural on the Caroll Creek Bridge in Frederick, Maryland, just on a much larger scale.

More posts about Quebec City on Rambling Traveler:
Friday Photo Post: Quebec City
Le Chateau Frontenac
Walking Around Quebec City
Friday Photo Post: More from Quebec City
Friday Photo Post: Rue Saint Louis, Quebec City

Friday, May 25, 2007

Friday Photo Post: More from Quebec City

quebec city, street performer, buskerThis little boy was quite entertained by the street performer. His reactions kept the rest of us entertained, too, although the busker was a lot of fun even by himself.

rue du petit champlain, quebec cityI liked the signs on this part of rue du Petit-Champlain. I wonder if that photographer has a photo of me?

rue du tresor, artist alley, quebec cityLooking at art on rue du Tresor, otherwise known as Artist Alley.

More posts about Quebec City on Rambling Traveler:
Friday Photo Post: Quebec City
Le Chateau Frontenac
Walking Around Quebec City
Wall Murals of Quebec City
Friday Photo Post: Rue Saint Louis, Quebec City

Thursday, May 24, 2007

From other Travel Blogs...

chateau frontenac, quebec cityChateau Frontenac, Quebec City

The Frugal Traveler starts an American Road Trip with Finally, Exit From New York.

Steve from Our Man in Granada is writing his guest posts on Budget Travel Online this week. Read about Our man in Granada, Meeting the Chavalos, and How I wound up living overseas, and watch for more articles today and tomorrow.

DC365 recommends taking a Spy Tour of the nation's capital with Spies of Washington Tour.

Rick Steves interviewed Rolf Potts for NPR. Rolf writes about the interview on Vagabonding. Listen to more Rick Steves travel podcasts.


Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Walking Around Quebec City

rue du petit-champlain, quebec cityDoug and I decided not to carry a map while we walked around the old city, so before we left our room, we reviewed the map one more time, figuring out the general area we wanted to explore. Of course, by the time we got to the street, I forgot what was where. Add that to the reasons I won't travel alone. I have a horrible sense of direction. I need Doug to help me navigate, otherwise I'm that tourist on the corner with the map spread open. I don't know how he does it, but Doug can look at a map once and know exactly where to go and how to get back.

That talent came in handy, because we walked a lot during our four days in Quebec City. We had fun walking around the upper town, exploring rue Saint-Louis, Sainte-Anne, Garneau, Couillard, rue Saint-Jean and several other roads. On rue Saint-Louis, we walked by Maison Jacquet, the oldest house in Quebec City.

maison jacquet, quebec cityWe also explored lower town, walking down Cote de la Montagne, then along rue du Petit-Champlain, Sous-le-Fort, and Notre-Dame. We peaked in the windows, but didn't go into many shops. Everyone else praised the shopping, but I was trying to avoid temptation and impulse buying. I kept repeating my mantra of simplify, simplify, simplify. If you are interested in shopping, though, there is something for everyone.

rue du petit-champlain, quebec cityThroughout the city there are benches everywhere for you to sit and relax. We also spent some time at a pub, sitting outside on the patio, enjoying a beer and some chips. I practiced the very few French words I knew and was relieved when the waitress responded with a smile (of course, she could have been laughing). It's such a beautiful language, I wanted to sit there all day, listening to people talk.

If you go, be prepared for walking up and down stairs and hills. You can just wander around, shopping and enjoying the architecture, but if you are interested in the history, I recommend getting a good guidebook or going on a walking tour. One book I like is Quebec, A North American Treasure by Donald Dion. The book has wonderful pictures with brief descriptions of the history of different buildings and streets.

More posts about Quebec City on Rambling Traveler:
Friday Photo Post: Quebec City
Le Chateau Frontenac
Friday Photo Post: More from Quebec City
Wall Murals of Quebec City
Friday Photo Post: Rue Saint Louis, Quebec City

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Le Chateau Frontenac

chateau frontenac, quebec cityWe were lucky enough to stay at the Chateau Frontenac during our stay in Quebec City. While we were there, we toured the hotel with Gaston, a tour guide who played the part of a porter from the late 19th century. He had several interesting stories about the hotel and its guests. Some of what we learned:

The Chateau was built for the Canadian Pacific Railway in the late 1800's. Several luxury hotels were being built at the time, including Banff Springs Hotel and Windsor Station in Montreal. The railway wanted to encourage the wealthy to travel on its trains to visit those destinations, and the hotels were the lure.

The brick used for the hotel came from Scotland. It was used for ballast in ships coming to North America to get timber. When the ships arrived, they dumped the brick to make room for the timber. People used the free brick to build homes, and the builders of the Chateau did the same. The other stone used in the building is local blue limestone.

This is where the Quebec Conference of 1943 was held, when Winston Churchill, Franklin D. Roosevelt and William Lyon Mackenzie King planned Operation Overlord, otherwise know as D Day, the invasion of Normandy during World War II. The world leaders stayed at the Citadel while the military officers and staff stayed at the Chateau. The First Ladies were also at the hotel, helping to distract the press.

chateau frontenac, quebec cityTours of the Chateau Frontenac are open to the public, and I highly recommend that you go on one. Be sure to ask a lot of questions. Someone asked Gaston why his outfit had leather sleeves and he explained that porters carried large trunks from the steamships and trains that arrived and the leather kept the shirts from ripping. They also kept the porters warm when they had to stand outside in cold weather. Most porters would tuck wool into the leather sleeves for extra protection.

Other posts about Quebec City on Rambling Traveler:
Friday Photo Post: Quebec City
Walking Around Quebec City
Friday Photo Post: More from Quebec City
Wall Murals of Quebec City
Friday Photo Post: Rue Saint Louis, Quebec City

Friday, May 18, 2007

Friday Photo Post: Quebec City

chateau frontenac, quebec cityWow. Quebec City is beautiful. At least the old city is, which is where we are staying and the only place we've seen so far. We arrived at the Chateau Frontenac in time for high tea and an interesting tour of the hotel. With a bit of time before dinner, we went outside to explore the area.

sous le fort, lower town, quebec cityIt was chilly, in the 40's, but it was sunny, and I still wore my sandals.

pub st patrick, rue garneau, quebec cityI love it when Doug travels to fun places for business and I get to tag along.

Other posts about Quebec City on Rambling Traveler:
Le Chateau Frontenac
Walking Around Quebec City
Friday Photo Post: More from Quebec City
Wall Murals of Quebec City
Friday Photo Post: Rue Saint Louis, Quebec City

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Minnesota Fishing Opener

Gull Lake sunset, BrainerdGolden Shiners on a Lindy Rig with a 6 1/2 lb test line, slip bobber and red hook... Confused yet? I was when I was told this was how to catch a walleye on Gull Lake (thanks, George!) My youngest son actually used a floating red jig instead of the red hook, but he still managed to catch his first walleye this year. That seems to be some kind of right of passage in the Cashman family. He still has to learn how to filet the fish, but that can wait a couple years.

Fishing opener is serious business in Minnesota, and this year was better than most. It was unusually warm, with temperatures in the mid 70's, compared to previous years' temps in the 40's and 50's. Fishing is much easier when you aren't wearing winter coats and your fingers aren't too cold to put the bait on the hook. According to the guys, it was a good opener for walleye, perch and crappies. I stayed home, and it was an incredibly relaxing and quiet Mother's Day weekend.

Thank you to Don Cashman for the picture of the sunset on Gull Lake.

Monday, May 14, 2007

Roam Around The World

ferris wheel at Bray, IrelandBray, Ireland

Rambling Traveler was invited to participate in this week's Carnival of Cities, titled Roam Around the World, hosted at The San Diego Beat. I hadn't looked at blog carnivals before, so it was interesting to read about it, and look through previous editions.

Carole from San Diego Beat put together a great list of articles, with pictures, from different cities around the world, including my story on Afton Alps State Park. For our listening enjoyment, she also included a video of the B-52's singing "Roam" to listen to while we read.

There are some familiar blogs, and several that I haven't seen before. Check out today's Carnival of Cities, I think you'll enjoy it.

From ProBlogger's Group Writing Project...

cats in dubrovnik, croatiaCats in Dubrovnik, Croatia

Darren Rowse at ProBlogger had a group writing project last week, and several travel articles were submitted. Here are some of my favorites:

Five gems, what makes a good pub? by Pints of Ale
Five Travel Blogs You Gotta Read by Sheila at Perceptive Travel Blog
Top 5 Reasons Why We Travel by Timen at in my All Stars
Top 5 Reasons to Make Nova Scotia Your Next Travel Destination by Blogging Nova Scotia
My Top 5 Future Photowalking Locations by Photowalking.org
5 best places to go while visiting Acadia National Park by Acadia
My Five Most Awestruck Travel Experiences by Exit Row Seat
Top Five Strategies for Traveling Light by Graham Barker: The Blog
Top 5 DC Things To Do This Summer by DC365
Top 5 Italian Words You Really Don't Want To Mispronounce at Bleeding Espresso
Top 5 Things To Do In Istanbul by Let's Meet Where the Continents Meet

Check out ProPlogger's full submission list for articles on several other subjects, including personal finance, photography, and of course, blogging.

Friday, May 11, 2007

Friday Photo Post: Education Raptors

Great Horned OwlThese are some of the education raptors we saw at the Spring Raptor Release. A Great Horned Owl, an American Kestrel, and a Bald Eagle were among the several birds of prey that were there.

American Kestrel
Bald Eagle

Thursday, May 10, 2007

From other Travel Blogs...

palm trees,Kiahuna Beach,Kauai,HawaiiKiahuna Beach in Kauai, Hawaii
Photo by Scott Carpenter

Thinking of taking a RTW trip? The Lost Girls have a 3 part series detailing the expenses for their round the world adventure, including total costs, breakdown of flight, gear, accommodations, and breakdown of food, travel, entertainment.

Timen at in my All Stars shares Top 5 Reasons Why We Travel. He does a great job of explaining our need to get out and see the world.

National Parks Traveler has another guide to the parks, this time it's The Essential Glacier with tips for visiting Glacier National Park.

Backpackers.com has a post about Geobeats, a website featuring video travel guides. I ended up spending far too much time at Geobeats, exploring all the videos. The videos teaching the top local phrases are a great idea.

Another trail is being added to my summer of walking in England. Smarter Travel has an article about walking the Pennine Way that I found interesting.

Wednesday, May 9, 2007

Traveling Alone

A quote about traveling alone was recently posted on Vagablogging :

"It seemed an advantage to be traveling alone. Our responses to the world are crucially molded by the company we keep, for we temper our curiosity to fit in with the expectations of others. They may have particular visions of who we are and hence may subtly prevent certain sides of us from emerging… Being closely observed by a companion can also inhibit our observation of others; then, too, we may become caught up in adjusting ourselves to the companions questions and remarks, or feel the need to make ourselves seem more normal than is good for our curiosity."
--Alain de Botton, The Art of Travel, (2002)

Several other sites also mention the benefits of solo travel, including Ubertramp, who has written about the pros and cons of traveling alone. It sounds like an incredible experience with amazing benefits, but I keep coming back to the idea that I want to share my experiences with someone else. I don't doubt that I would learn even more about myself if I was on my own, responsible for all the decisions, but I would miss the chance to turn to my husband or friend and have them share the moment with me.

I don't worry about my curiosity being tempered or having my observations inhibited, either. I hope both will be enriched by having someone else to bounce ideas off of. Having a travel partner with different strengths might cause me to slack in those areas, but it might also encourage me to try something new.

One thing that does worry me is being considered less approachable than a solo traveler. I can also see how it would be too easy to interact only with each other and not meet other people. Since meeting other people, travelers or locals, is such a great part of traveling, I don't want to miss out on those opportunities. Hopefully just being friendly to the people we see will help counteract this downside, because for me, the advantages of traveling with a partner outweigh the disadvantages.

Although I won't be planning any solo trips myself, I do enjoy reading about them (Tales of a Female Nomad, Vroom with a View, and McCarthy's Bar), so I'll continue to search out books and blogs with interesting stories of people traveling alone.

Tuesday, May 8, 2007

What Are Your Top 5 Travel Dreams?

machu picchu, peruPhoto by Michael McDonough on flickr

Every traveler has one. It changes depending on our mood, what we've been reading, and who we've talked to, but it's always there. The List. Sometimes we write it down, sometimes it's only in our heads, but it's there. We talk about it, "it's on my list" and "that's getting bumped up on my list", but on all the travel blogs I read, I haven't yet seen anyone's list.

It's the list of places you want to travel to. Your list might have 5, 10, 100 or a 1000 places to visit, but I'm just talking about the top 5. The places you really want to see.

In the spirit of sharing, and because when you put something in writing, it's one step closer to doing, here are my Top 5 Travel Dreams:

1. See Machu Picchu. I was in high school the first time I saw a picture of the incredible ruins, and they have been on my list ever since.

2. Do a canopy tour and ride a zip line somewhere in Central America.

3. Explore the fjords in Norway.

4. Scooter across Italy like Peter Moore, author of Vroom with a View

5. Hike in the Scottish Highlands.

Those are mine, now what are yours? Don't worry about having to include exotic destinations. It's about the places you want to visit, not where anyone else says you should go. Please share your top 5 in the comments or, if you have one, in your own blog.

If you could go anywhere, where would it be and what would you do there?

Ashford Castle, cong, county mayo, irelandThe picture above is Ashford Castle in County Mayo. Visiting a castle in Ireland used to be in my top 5, but it got crossed off the list last summer.

*Darren Rowse at ProBlogger has a Group Writing Project going on, and the theme is "Top 5". I decided to take on the challenge, and I'm curious what other bloggers will come up with.

Monday, May 7, 2007

Spring Raptor Release

Bald EagleThis weekend, The Raptor Center had its Spring Raptor Release at Carpenter Nature Center in Hastings, Minnesota. We had a chance to see some of the eagles, hawks, falcons and owls that are permanent residents at the center due to injuries that prevent them from living in the wild. They are education raptors and are used to teach groups about birds of prey.

Ken Speake, Spring Raptor ReleaseWe also saw the release of 4 raptors that had been treated for injuries and were able to leave the center. If you click on the above picture, you can get a good look at that eagle's expression. I love that look, "What the...?!" They are getting ready to hand him over to Ken Speake, a much loved local t.v. news reporter who recently retired from KARE 11. Ken released the eagle, and it flew off to cheers from the crowd.

raptor releaseThese release picture were taken about 150 feet (45 meters) away from the stage using the 10x optical zoom on my Olympus SP-510 UZ. Although there weren't any Harris Hawks like the ones at our hawk walk, we had fun seeing the Red Tailed Hawks and other birds of prey.

Friday, May 4, 2007

Friday Photo Post: Kauai, Hawaii

Kauai, HawaiiMy brother took this picture of palm trees in Kauai, Hawaii. It was taken with just a 2mp camera, but it reminds me of the HDR photography that Trey Ratcliff does. I can only imagine what it would have looked like if Scott had used a higher quality camera.

When I asked him if I could use the photograph, Scott told me he was also doing a Friday Photo Post on Hawaii on his blog, Moving to Freedom. Coincidences like that make me smile.

Scott Carpenter shares his photographs under a creative commons attribution-share alike license.

Thursday, May 3, 2007

From other Travel Blogs...

Ring of Kerry roadA few of the articles I enjoyed this week:

I've been thinking about doing the Coast to Coast Walk in England, just trying to decide if it should be with or without the boys. Guardian Unlimited has two articles by ,

Willy Volk at Gadling writes about Cool Capitals, a fun site with interactive maps of some of Europe's capitals.

There is also some good advice in the article 27 Personal Finance Tips for Overseas Travel on Ask the Advisor.

Wednesday, May 2, 2007

Tips for Traveling with Children

Split Rock Lighthouse State Park in Minnesota

I mentioned that we've traveled with our 3 boys since our youngest was one year old. How did we make it work? It all comes down to keeping them occupied, not letting them get hungry, and keeping your own positive attitude.

On the road:
1. Start with shorter trips, distance and time-wise. We drove 3-4 hours to different destinations for weekend trips (Itasca State Park, North Shore of Lake Superior)

2. Make frequent stops. When we moved on to longer trips (7-10 days in the car), we stopped often to let them stretch their legs. We planned stops that would be fun for them, places to run around and climb on things, anything to wear off some energy. During our trip around Lake Michigan, we added a stop at Six Flags to our itinerary of state and national parks.

3. Plan car activities appropriate for their ages. We packed a basket with healthy snacks and things to do. You can't spend the entire trip talking to each other, so we also splurged on a 9" portable t.v. with a vcr (it was awhile ago!) that plugged into the power source, and as they got older, they brought hand held video games. Now they also read books and listen to music.

4. Plan around their eating and sleeping schedules. Make it easy for them and don't expect too much.

5. Be patient, and be flexible with your plans. Most important, make it fun for them.

On the plane:
This one is tougher for the little ones, but hopefully these suggestions will help.

1. Pack fun things to do. Our youngest was 2 1/2 years old on his first plane ride. We packed a bag full of crayons, paper, books, snacks and little toys for the 3 hour flight. He was great, other than he wanted to kneel on the floor and play on the seat. It was fine with me, but the flight attendant didn't agree. These days, it's easier to keep children (and adults) occupied with portable dvd players or computers. Books and music will also help.

2. Bring snacks to eat on the plane. Save them for when your child gets restless or hungry.

3. If they are a little older, let them pick out a magazine or two at the news stand. Unless they are used to them at home, it will be a treat and help keep them occupied on the plane. Don't forget to add some bottled water to your purchase.

4. Plane rides are a great chance to talk to your children. At home, schedules can get so busy that you don't have enough time to sit and talk, so your children will probably enjoy the one on one time. Talk about what you'll do on the trip, or what is going on at home. Play some easy pen and paper games while you chat. Our boys are pretty social, so they will talk to anyone they sit by. I have great memories of meeting people our boys sat next to (as they've gotten older, we sometimes get split up) and hearing about their conversations.

5. Make it an adventure for them. If they are excited, they won't be crabby. They will also pick up on your attitude, so be calm, patient, and positive. If you are having fun and enjoying yourself, so will they.

Tuesday, May 1, 2007

Don't Wait to Travel

hiking copper mountain, coloradoThis weekend, Paul at TravMonkey wrote about why you should go traveling. His reasons are aimed at the young and unmarried traveling long term, but even if that doesn't describe you, I would encourage you to get out and see the world.

Too many times I hear of people who put off travel until their retirement, and then something happens to prevent it. Don't wait until you have more time, it might not happen. Live your life in the present, and plan now that trip you've always dreamed of. If you absolutely can't make it work, plan a different trip that will work.

If you have children, don't wait for them to move out, take them with you. We started traveling with our boys when our youngest was one year old. Mostly road trips at first with an occasional plane trip in the United States, then an incredible trip to Ireland for 2 weeks. Not only was it wonderful for me, but it was an experience the boys will always remember. I love sharing memories of our trips. The picture above is from 4 years ago, preserving a memory of hiking Copper Mountain, (and memories of boys with shorter hair who hadn't yet passed their mother in height.)

People think it is too expensive to travel, but most of our travels were done with very limited funds. We've driven, camped or stayed at less expensive hotels, and packed food from home or shopped for food at grocery stores instead of eating out. Traveling doesn't have to be expensive. Having less money to travel encourages creativity and can lead to some great adventures. It also means fewer souvenir tchotchkes to clutter your home.

So, if there is somewhere you want to visit, plan your trip now. It's too sad to have regrets later on about what you didn't do.