Canada June 2014 – May 2015
November – April 2015
Is our new hometown for 6 month we are going to live here, in between huge majestic mountains, in the freezing coldness – it was already –30 ° at night and – 20 at daytime in november! But the worst and coldest month january and february were quite warm, we had at least 3 weeks above zero during day time, where the snow melted completely. Not very good for dogsledding.
Canmore is such a nature activity town, with lots of sporty people, you can hike, ski, x-country-ski, dog-sledding, make ice-sculptures, do snow-shoe-hiking – go climbing, take a swim in natural hot spring water, go into a hot steam bath or simply sit in front of a fire place in between to warm up :)
Unfortunately a lot of the fireplaces are not real ones anymore, but run with gas – so you have flames but fake wood. Not the same at all, doesn't even come close to a real fireplace, the smell, the cracking of the wood - all missing.
We are living in a shared house with 4 people, 2 km from the center of Canmore. Rents here are inormously high, for a small room of about 12 m2 we pay 900 $ all incl., and that is cheap, if you go online to check for a room it can be 1200 $ for a couple. It is one of the most expensive touristy places to live in Canada.
This winter has been very mild, we are having 13 °C in March now! Last year at teh same time they had - 35°C as the extreme temperature and an average of -7°C.
The good thing is: you can do lots of nice hikes, right behind the house the forest and a huge area of trails start, after 2 min of hiking up a steep slope you have great panoramic views of the surrounding mountains.
The best thing I did: I got to go on a dogsledding-tour with Titony (his workplace) on his last day of work! So lucky! First is was way too busy and then too warm... but at last in March it all worked out, we went on a 1,5 hour tour at Mount Shark, through beautiful forests, with stunning mountain-views, tricky trails that went up and down all the way - so exciting! So amazing! These dogs have power, they want to be cuddled, they are anxious to go and they are so beautiful.
We already managed to sell our van mid March aswell, and bought our tickets for Hawaii. Next adventure ahead in May: first 2 weeks Hawaii then Vancouver Island before going back to Europe for a couple of month.
15.10. – 20.10.2014
ROAD TRIP NO. 2
In the middle of october we made the GIANT 4600-km-road-trip from Rougemont to Montreal and then all the way to the Rockiy Mountains. First we drove one day through Canada, then 3 days through the USA and again 1 day through Canada until Calgary, where we met a friend of Titony. Just 50 km before Calgary our van had some chocking-problems ... we had to stop on the side of the highway, checked every-thing... found nothing. We made it into the next village and bought some cleaning stuff
for the gastank – luckily ever since he is doing fine!
Next day we went further on to Canmore, where Titony applied for dog-sledding tour-guide-jobs and had 2 interviews. Actually he just went to the first one and got hired the next day! One day later we had a room in a shared house – perfect. Just 3 more nights sleeping in the cold cold van, then we stayed one week at a great couchsurfers place, until we could moved in our place.
NEW YORK CITY, New York, USA
After a week I took the train for 17,5 hours to New York City. I stayed in Rockaway beach, in a cute hostel one block from the beach + atlantic ocean! I went surfing in the morning twice – which was had
after long break and I twisted my shoulder...
From Rockaway it is 1-hour subway or ferry to Manhattan, I went to visit art shows, gallery-hopping in chelsea, listened to live jazz in the underground and in the bar "fat cat" in greenwich village, went to the times square at night, was out with friends from Germany and Montreal and met a whole lot of nicepeople.
TOLEDO, Ohio, USA
For once I am going on a journey alone (Esther), visiting my host family + friends in Toledo,Ohio. I stayed there when I was 16 years old for a high school year and coming back feels like »home away from home«. Toledo is a huge town with 1,5 Million people, but the downtown area is kind of a ghost town compared to european cities.
15.09. – 15.10.2014
From Rigaud we went to Rougemont, just 1 hour south of Montreal. Titony was picking apples there for 4 weeks, we ate a ton of apples and baked some apple pie and I went on vacation to the USA for 2 weeks.
So we are back in Rigaud, Titony is back to work in the tree climbing parc and we are living in the forest in our van once again. I am able to have my office in the "chalet" of the parc with wifi and electricity and spontaneous guests in form of chipmunks!
In our free time we are going fishing and hiking pretty often, since there is not much more to do here :) At the weekends we are often going to Montreal to see some friends.
and that is all you can do there ;)
18.07. – 12.08.2014
ROADTRIP NO. 1 Québec
Titony's best friend Puzzle arrived from France for a 4 week vacation. We first went climbing together in the tree-tops before we left for the road-trip! If you're a bit scared of heights like me it is a real challenge... for Titony it's like a normal walk, just that it's about 15 m over the ground.
Our 14-day Roadtrip (around 1500 km) started in Rigaud, then to Montreal, National Park Mauricie, Lake Saint-Jean, National Park Fjörd Saguenay, Les Escoumins, Tadoussac (wale watching), Quebec City and finally back to Montreal.
After 4 hours driving from Montreal, shortly before the Mauricie National Park, we found a nice lake and thought: perfect, here we'll find our first wild-camping-spot. We drove around the lake for about an hour, passing one private driveway after the other, seeing only forest and short glimpses of the lake. Then the street came to a dead end without one single spot to camp wild. No chance, everything is private property here, so we drove back and stayed one night at a campsite. That was not how we
thought it would be.
The next day we drove into the Mauricie National Park, payed the entrance fee and again a campground in the park, which was close to the most hiking trails and this time it was worth it: the 5-hours hike we done the next morning through the deep forest and around lots of lakes with
panoramic views was simply amazing! Just forest as far as the eye reaches no sign of civilization. At the end of the walk we saw one of the omnipresent "Beware of Bears" -signs and were happy that we didn't encounter one.
In the next couple of days we camped only in the "wild" and in a region full of wild bears. Always close to the river, where the guys went fishing all day long, while I was happy reading my book, collecting (and eating) the wild blueberries and raspberries. That was vacation, I didn't have internet connection with my stick so I could do sweet, sweet nothing.
Then we arrived at the giant Lake Saint-Jean where we decided to stay in Misstassini on a campground again, right next to a waterfall and a small island in the river with a beach and all. The second reason we stayed there was an open-air-concert of the Québécois- Band "Les Cowboys Fringants" – which was fantastic to see them standing directly in front of the stage and in a crowd that went completly nuts and knew every single song by heart...what an atmosphere. After the concert Titony decided in a
quick movement to jump over the security fence, walked right into the backstage area and drank a beer with the group.
From the lake Saint-Jean there is a nice route along the Fjörd Saguenay, where we stopped in the beatiful village of "St Rose du Nord" which is very old-fashioned and touristy but still lovely.Shortly after we found an awesome place to camp wild next to a lake + beach, where we went
Next day we drove about 4 hours further to "Les Escoumins" at the River St. Lawrence – to see whales while sitting on the rocks at the coastline. 5 Minutes after arrival we saw the first whale, and then every 30 minutes or so, we heard the deep breath and fountain of a whale, looked in the direction and followed him for hundreds of meters and breathings, until he decided to dive deeper again. Goosebumbs! I deciced to maka a zodiac-tour to see them even closer and asked at the counter for the least-croweded tour: In the afternoon there is mostly no other boats and just about 10 people – I believed him and it was perfect. First we saw a couple of giant blue whales, the biggest of all whales. From far away and
turned our engine off, waited if they would be curious enough to come closer – and yes they did!
Then the same "game" with a huge about 12 m long humpback-whale, who was very curious indeed: he stayed around our boat for half an hour or longer, coming as close as three meter to our tiny 6m-long
zodiac. The feeling: unbelievable, I can't put it in words. It is a pleasure to see these threatened, giant but gently creatures how they enjoy their life.
Next stop: Tadoussac a beautiful village, beach, lake to swim, kayaking, whale watching, lots of youngpeople and live music in numerous restaurants, cafes and pubs every night.We found a good spot to pard our van, right in between the lake and the beach, each just a 5 min walk.Unfortunately I had to work a lot for my clients these days, but at least I found a nice "office", the pinkbuilding on the picture is a great café + pub with a nice view of the harbor and river.I love my work, I designed a book for National Geographic while sitting in a nice atmosphere, withnice people and music around me – what more can you want? After and before work I went to thebeach, had a swim in the lake and hung out with friends. I think here I could pass my summer... but we had to go further.
Then a Culture-shock in Québec City: such a huge, busy and loud city after weeks of calmness, nature and birdssinging – that was too much when we arrived. But in the evening, while looking on the sunset and the
alluminated city we're already getting more calm and enjoying an amazing BBQ with a friend of Titonys'. In the morning we walked down to the old Québec, with is sooooo lovely and reminded me
with the architecture and old buildings a lot of France and Europe in general. Here I think I could live sometime aswell.
The road trip is coming to it's end – our van "Titou" was a perfect partner not complaining once :)
We drove to Montreal, bringing our friend Puzzle to the airport and headed back to Rigaud.
BUILDING OUR VAN
For the big roadtrip we build a bit of furniture inside the Van, which was empty when we bought it.2 days of building with Gaetan and it was done!
You can find some before- after- pictures in the gallery.
That was fun! In between Montreal and Ottawa there is the "Omega Park".
One whole day we were driving through the park, feeding deer which stuck their heads into the car, taking pictures of Bambi and walking on boardwalk over the wolves and bears...
Titony found a great job in Rigaud - 50 km west of Montréal in a tree climbing park! We have bought the old Van of Gaetan and are going to live in the woods for about two month, a bit in July and then mid August to the end of October. Rigaud is a small village, one main street, about 2 km long with all the shops and some cute oldfashioned-wooden buildings lined up next to each other. It has some some charme and atmosphere. There are 25 km of hiking trails through beautiful forests and a big parc where you can do all different kinds of sports from beach-volleyball, soccer, over tennis to baseball.
MONTRÉAL + LAVAL, Québec
We arrived on Montréal Airport and were warmly welcomed by two of Titony's friends, Amanda and Gaetan! They live in Laval, an island north of Montréal in a nice house, which is a bit in the countryside, with a cute dog and two cats.
We stayed there the first 2 weeks while doing all the organisation stuff: getting a social security number, open a bank account, buying a van and finding a job! Check. Done. All of it.
When we arrived there was the big "francofolie music festival" going on for some 10 days – we went to see "La Rue Ketanou" live and "Les Cowboys Fringants" at a free open-air concert including amazing fireworks. Later there was the Montréal Jazz Festival – awesome because I always wanted to go and we saw one of my favorite bands: Moriarty!