Friday, March 29, 2013

East to Ottawa

Went back to Ottawa to celebrate my niece's birthday and spend the spring break week with my family.
It's cold in Ottawa in March and there's a lot of snow! But I have to say Ottawa is a beautiful city in any season. I highly recommend it.

heading east over the Rockies

Ottawa farmland below

about to land in Ottawa

the guest room I stayed in
- bliss -

meet Buster Brown

birthday ice cream cake - delish!

We also drove to Quebec to spend time at 'The-Cottage-on-the-Lake'. I didn't see the lake this time because it was basically just a snow field. But I did get a tour of their new (in-progress) cottage they are having built from the ground up. They're building a Coyote Log Homes dream cottage on the shores of Lac Heney in Gracefield, Quebec. The cottage is spectacular!

It's going to be a magical escape from the hustle and bustle of the city by this summer when all the finishing touches are done. [I'm still plotting a way for me to retire there - maybe be the 'caretaker' of the place or something].
up angle shot of the grand room fireplace

grand room fireplace from the second floor

grand room moving closer to being completed

the king and his cottage castle

a partial view of the second floor

looking out across the grand room from the 2nd floor

one of many lovely detailed fans in the cottage

a piece of home made beer-battered fish & chips that
looks oddly like an elephant

e did an overnight trip to St Jerome, Quebec to visit an aunt and uncle. St Jerome is a pretty little city but impossible to navigate. We wasted so much time circling around its one-way streets before we found any of our destinations.
After a pleasant visit with our relatives, we spent the night at a pretty decent Comfort Inn off the highway before heading out early the next morning.
sunrise from the Comfort Inn parking lot
it was freezing!

Taking the scenic route, we headed home via Montebello, Quebec to stop in at Parc Omega Park. We drove into the park not expecting to see much of anything. Who can predict what wild animals will do, eh? It was incredible! We saw just about every single animal on the map the park provided. We were in awe of the deer. Their massive dark eyes mere inches away from ours as they poked their huge heads right inside our vehicle looking for their prized carrots. We fell in love with the little and not-so-little black boars with their 'we-don't-need-no-stinking-carrots' attitude as they trotted everywhere fearlessly. We were struck dumb by the arctic wolves and their echoing back and forth calls. We marveled at the prehistoric looking bison and so much more.

sun and shadows across the highway

hard to miss the entrance to Parc Omega Park

shed antlers adorn the visitors' centre/gift shop and bistro building

incredibly soft and fluffy red fox greets you below the bistro's deck

addicted to carrots

waiting to drop his second antler

still sporting a full set

we love carrots

I hear you have carrot

fighting over - you guessed it - carrots

size comparison: he's as big as a sedan!

another half antler

taking time to shed the antlers

Caribou shed their antlers because they don't have enough calcium and minerals to keep them. They soon grow back new ones once they have enough calcium and minerals.

Male caribou shed their antlers soon after the fall mating season is finished. For them, the antlers have served their purpose, and it is an advantage to shed the antlers while food is scarcer in winter. Female caribou that are not pregnant shed their antlers in the winter. Pregnant females keep their antlers until shortly after their babies are born in the spring. Keeping the antlers during winter helps them compete for food, which they need more of to nourish their unborn babies.

moose: gentle giant of the north
can I love them more??

The Moose: they are the largest members of the deer family. The biggest moose can reach as high as seven feet at the shoulders and they can weigh over 1300 pounds. The males have broad, palm-like antlers up to six feet across that can weight 90 pounds.

Despite their size and strength, moose tend to act very kindly toward their environment. Moose generally do not attack other creatures unless they or their offspring are in danger. They prefer to avoid hurting others if possible.
Only the mature bull-moose has antlers. These antlers grow very quickly - up to one inch a day. Moose shed their antlers before the winter each year and grow them back in the spring.

Why do they lose their antlers, considering the amount of energy it takes to grow them? One reason is that the antlers each year are generally larger than the year before. Starting over would allow the moose to expand not only length, but also broadness and bulk.

their hide is so thick they can't feel the cold

objects in mirror are closer than they appear

The North American Bison|Buffalo is composed of two subspecies, the Plains Bison and the Wood Bison. Both species were hunted close to extinction during the 19th and 20th centuries, but have since rebounded. The American plains bison is no longer listed as endangered, but the wood bison is on the endangered species list in Canada

Short, black horns stick out from the bison's massive head, just above their eyes. These horns are used to defend themselves against predators.

Bison's eyesight is poor, but their hearing and sense of smell is very good. In fact, a bison can smell an animal three kilometers away.

Male bison are called bulls and have large, square-shaped necks, while females have smaller, rounder necks and are referred to as bison cows.
And one last morsel of trivia that contradicts my previous beliefs about Bison: The bison's temperament is often unpredictable. They usually appear peaceful, unconcerned, even lazy, yet they may attack anything, often without warning or apparent reason. They can move at speeds of up to 35 mph (56 km/h) and cover long distances at a lumbering gallop. The hind legs can also be used to kill or maim with devastating effect. At the time bison ran wild, they were rated second only to the Alaska Brown Bear as a potential killer, more dangerous than the Grizzly Bear.

goat with horns

quintessential lone wolf

chillin' arctic wolf

this guy started the haunting calls that went on for nearly ten minutes

answered the original call

what did you think of that human?

I'm done, nothing more to see

post concert nap

the coyotes

what is that down at the bottom of the picture?
can you make it out? is it what I think it is?
if it's what I think it is, what the hell!?!

This lumbering beauty made their way right down to the edge of the enclosure to stare at us for a minute or so before ducking down under the what we called their 'observation deck' to forage for food.

black or brown?
I don't remember

Another big thing this visit was the incredible LEGO collection my young nephew has been amassing over the years. We're all in agreement that when he is older, he will need a room just to house his LEGO empire

prepare for war

These last two are sort of random but worthy of a mention. Yes people on the west coast there is a department store mecca in Eastern Canada called "Giant Tiger".

proof to my friends back home that this store really does exist

And for all those of you who've wondered about the *taste* in public art installations in and around Vancouver - Ottawa thought a ginormous pregnant spider sculpture was display-worthy on a grand scale . . . . .

yes, it is a giant pregnant spider
blame or thank the
National Gallery of Canada
It was a wonderful visit. Over way too soon, but there are plans to return in the fall. Hopefully our timing will be good and it will happen when all the changing colours are in full-fall bloom.