Tag Archives: travel

Hay Cove where Jenny's B&B is

Icebergs!! L’Anse aux Meadows, Newfoundland

Canadian Maritime Trip Log Book Continues:  Returning to Newfoundland from the French islands of St. Pierre & Miquelon, dad and I rented a car in Deer Lake and drove up to L’Anse aux Meadows at the northern end of the western peninsula of Newfoundland. The trek took about 5 hours driving extra fast, and we checked in to our B&B, Jenny’s Runestone House in the early evening.

jennys
Jenny’s B&B

Jenny and her husband Dave were the sweetest, chattiest people. They brought all the guests together to foster conversation and were genuinely welcoming and warm. Her breakfasts were also filling and delicious. I can’t recommend this B&B enough.

Right around the corner from Jenny’s is L’Anse aux Meadows – the only known Viking outpost in North America! Our guide was AMAZING and so knowledgeable. I’m glad we did the tour and didn’t just wander around on our own: the site would’ve just looked like lonely rolling grassy hills with some plaques.

Bumpy grass in foreground are actual ruins. Hut in background is replica
Bumpy grass in foreground are actual ruins. Hut in background is replica
creek with visitor center in distance - l'anse aux meadows
creek with visitor center in distance – l’anse aux meadows

There was so much to learn – too much to recount here – but here are a few fun facts:

  1. Viking is the word meaning “raiding” – the people are Norsemen, not Vikings. What they did was “go a-viking”(pronounced “vic-ing”).
  2. This was not a settlement. This was an outpost that the Norsemen visited for an aggregate of 10 years over a 25 year period. We know there were at least two visits, perhaps more. From here, the Norsemen would travel around to gather resources to bring back to Greenland, such as wood, rocks and other natural resources.
  3. A new Viking outpost (maybe full-blown settlement) has potentially been discovered on the southern portion of Newfoundland. The folks at L’Anse aux Meadows are waiting eagerly to hear what is discovered. It could really change the whole perceived history of the Norsemen in North America.
  4. We saw our first moose siting here! Everyone told us there are tons of moose everywhere and to watch out when driving in case they bound out into the road. I was diligently looking all around as we drove and didn’t see a single one until we got to the park. (And as a PS, we didn’t see any more ever again.)

The next day, it was pretty rainy and cold (as has been the theme of the trip), but we booked a 2.5 hour boat trip out of St. Anthony (the largest town on the northern peninsula and about 35 minutes from L’Anse aux Meadows) to see icebergs and whales.

iceberg ice
iceberg ice scooped out of the water

Decked out in my anorak and rain pants, I hunkered down on the aft deck as we motored through the harbor out to the North Atlantic.

First, we came across a pair of humpback whales feeding by the rocky shoreline. We followed the sprays until we saw the slow backs arching out of the water, often followed by a graceful tail flick as the whales dove deep.

We didn’t see any full breeching or jumping, but we did see some side fins as the whales trapped fish against the rocks and swam by, huge mouths agape to sweep in the fish.

whale and iceberg
whale spray and small iceberg

Our boat guides with Northland Discovery Boat Tours were great – lots of whale info, as well as info about daily life in the town… like it’s an 11 hour drive to the closest Costco.

iceberg
this one was so tall

Next we got up close and personal with some incredible icebergs. We even saw a seal lounging on one of the ice hunks!

The blue streaks contained within the bergs are created by melted ice water pouring into a crack and refreezing. Apparently if you were to hold a chunk of that blue streak, it would be clear as glass. That’s how pure the iceberg water is. A St. John’s brewery, Quidi Vidi, makes “Iceberg Beer” with water they claim is 25,000 years old.

These icebergs break off from the glaciers on Greenland, as well as few from the arctic ice pack. They are eroded as they float southward by the lapping ocean; melting is actually only a small percentage of how they become smaller and smaller. Some may drag their bottoms on the ocean floor. As they change shape, they may “calf” (have smaller chunks break off) and even flip over if they get top-heavy enough. Jenny said she could watch icebergs all day, get up to use the bathroom, and when she gets back, the whole thing has flipped over and she’s missed it.

intense fog
intense fog

After our tour, we ate a warm lunch at Lightkeepers Seafood on Fishing Point (my French dip sandwich was so good) with a lovely views, wandered around Dark Tickle (a gift shop and local-berry jam factory in St. Lunaire-Griquet), and then went back to Jenny’s to continue watching icebergs and whales from the cliffs by the B&B.

Dark Tickle
Dark Tickle – berry jam factory and shop
fun sign
fun sign

As for food, we sampled some local fare: fresh seafood – mussels, scallops, shrimp, ate jam made out of local blueberries, partridgeberries, bakeapple (cloudberries) and crowberries.

sunset at the Norseman
sunset near The Norseman restaurant

We ate dinner the first evening at Northern Delight, where I had a not-too-greasy pan-fried local cod and dad had a whole lobster for $24 (CAD) – good deal. We were “treated” to a visit by some Mummers – people dressed up in masks and baggy clothes who danced around to local music (a typical Newfoundland Christmas tradition). I was creeped out, but I don’t generally like people in masks.

The second evening we ate at the more upscale restaurant, The Norseman by L’Anse aux Meadows, where we had freshly made butternut squash soup, scallops and mussels. All delicious. And here we were serenaded by a guitarist playing Newfoundland traditional folk songs and classic pop music. And actually that musician was also our costumed re-enactor at L’Anse aux Meadows the prior day!

I’d say two nights was the perfect amount of time to do all the things we wanted up in the north-western part of Newfoundland. 100% worth the visit!

Hay Cove where Jenny's B&B is
Hay Cove where Jenny’s B&B is
New Belgium Ranger Station

Snowmass Pizza: New Belgium Ranger Station

Okay, this one isn’t your normal pizza review because it’s not your standard pizza. On our Colorado vacation back in June, we headed into Snowmass Village the fist night to grab a low-key bite at New Belgium Ranger Station. The restaurant has tons of New Belgium beers on tap (the Colorado brewery that makes Fat Tire) and a good selection of appetizers, salads and apres-ski fare.

I had a delicious and huge kale salad that I couldn’t even finish, paired with a 1554 black ale, and Mark had a freshly grilled chicken breast accompanied by a green salad. Everything was quite tasty, and it didn’t hurt that we were sitting outside by a massive fire pit, watching the sun set over the mountains, turning the clouds all shades of yellow and pink.

New Belgium Ranger Station
New Belgium Ranger Station – I like these stools that have cubbies for your things built in!

Although I was also tempted to order the make-your-own s’mores kit, I refrained and we split the pepperoni pretzel rolls instead. Yum.

pepperoni pretzel pizza sandwiches
pepperoni pretzel pizza sandwiches

Maybe just slightly too cheesy, but otherwise it hit the eating-pizza-without-actually-eating-pizza spot. The pretzel bun had that lovely chunky rock salt, and inside was melted mozzarella and pepperoni, accompanied by a marinara dipping sauce.

This would definitely make a good apres-ski snack with a beer or two!

dad in a windy field

Ile aux Marins, St. Pierre

During our recent stay on the French island of St. Pierre, off the coast of Canada’s Newfoundland, my dad and I visited the harbor island of Ile aux Marins.

looking back at colorful town of St. Pierre
looking back at colorful town of St. Pierre

The sun finally broke through the rain a bit and the ferry was running from downtown St. Pierre to the tiny, ghost-town of an island. Years ago the island was inhabited by fishermen who would bring their catch back to be cleaned and dried on large rock beds all over the island.

a replica saline or fishing cabin with boats, fishing gear, snow shoes, galoshes, etc.
a replica saline or fishing cabin with boats, fishing gear, snow shoes, galoshes, etc.
Ile aux Marins
Ile aux Marins

It’s now uninhabited (although some of the houses looked really well-kept so maybe some are still in use on summer weekends, unclear), at least by year-round residents.

The day we went over was incredibly windy (as I think it tends to be over there) and the tall grasses whipped our legs as we walked the grass trails around the homes to the 1970s shipwreck of the Transpacific and to the former fort at the end of the island. The island has no trees and so the wind flows easily and quickly over the hilltop.

dad in a windy field
dad in a windy field

The “fort”at one end of the island is, at this point, a large hill with rusted cannons and a flag pole. The cannons were actually never used as the French government never went through with establishing a defensive base there. The cannons were, however, used for a while on Bastille Day for celebration.

Near the fort is the rusted hull of the Transpacific – a shipwreck from the 70s that doesn’t seem that large until you notice the small house next to it and the comparison is pretty cool. The ship was abandoned and locals looted the cargo – lawnmowers and juke boxes among other day-to-day items.

In the middle of the island is a stark white and red church. Its clean lines and perfect proportions make it seem other-worldly or fake, especially when viewed from St. Pierre through the mist. The shadows are crisp.

red-roofed church
red-roofed church

On a hill near the church is  a large crucifix.

cross on Ile aux Marins
cross on Ile aux Marins

Over another hill and down low is an above-ground, sea-side cemetery: eerie, quiet and spooky with not a few cracked tombs where you could look down in the dark depths within.

graveyard by the sea
derelict graveyard by the sea

The whole place was beautiful and peaceful, with the constant wind in your ear and the screeching circling seagulls. There was a woman running a small snack bar and she was the only person we came across until some local sanitation workers arrived to empty the trash bins.

Newfoundland, Canada: Ferryland

Ferryland is a small town about an hour and fifteen minutes south of St. John’s along the eastern coast of Newfoundland in the Canadian Maritime Islands. My dad and I are currently in the second leg of our father-daughter roadtrip (the first leg was through Normandy and Brittany, France two summers ago).

On this trip, we are exploring Newfoundland & Labrador, Canada, St. Pierre & Miquelon islands (which are part of France) and Nova Scotia. He’s then going on to Price Edward Island and Ile de Madeleine (Quebec) and I’ll head home.

Dad always travels with a little plinth and mini flags for the places he’s going. Can you figure out all of these below? Click on the pictures to check.

On our way from St. Pierre to western Newfoundland, we had a whole day layover in St. John’s. Having visited St. John’s on a prior trip, we decided to head for Ferryland instead.

flying into Newfoundland - look at those cliffs!
flying into Newfoundland – look at those cliffs!

(On a side note, the time zones here are so neat! St. Pierre & Miquelon are 2 hours ahead of east coast US. Traveling EAST to St. John’s, you set the clocks BACK 30 minutes. So not only are you traveling east and gaining time – very rare – but also all of Newfoundland is in an odd 30 minute time zone. So now we are 1.5 hours ahead of east coast US.)

So back to Ferryland. We rented a car at St. John’s airport (a debacle in and of itself as we accidentally booked a nonrefundable car at St. John airport….in New Brunswick). So after hanging around and finally getting the last car seemingly in the whole airport, we headed to Ferryland.

scenic overlook on east coast of Newfoundland
scenic overlook on east coast of Newfoundland

On the drive, the views overlooking sharp cliffs and rocky island outcroppings were breathtaking, and we even spotted a few sprays from whales off the shore.

rocky islands off newfoundland
rocky islands off the coast

Ferryland is town where the original colony of Avalon was founded in the 1620s by George Calvert aka Lord Baltimore!!! As you can imagine, this had been pre-researched and our Baltimore connection is why we wanted to go.

Lord Calvert really couldn’t stand the harsh winters there and so he only stayed a year before heading south and founding Maryland. The colony at Avalon continued on under other English leadership until such a time when it was destroyed by the French….but then the settlers came back and rebuilt.

The colony is an active archeological dig site and we watched as students from a local university used trowels to pull out shards of pottery, bottle glass, and other bits and pieces. They have over 2 million pieces in their archives (from the indigenous Beothuk people, to the first settlers, to 19th century residents) and they literally uncover hundreds of things from the ground everyday. Unfortunately, they no longer have the staff to reconstruct much of what they discover, and so it gets catalogued and warehoused.

tool shed at colony of Avalon dig site
tool shed at colony of Avalon dig site

We walked on the cobbles of Main Street that were uncovered intact, along with remnants of fireplaces, the village forge, kitchen and privy, as well as foundations for many homes, including the Baltimore “mansion.”

Lord Baltimore "mansion"
Lord Baltimore “mansion”

Fishing was the village’s main occupation, although it seemed like regularly fighting off French and Dutch were also high on the list. However, these were villagers and fishermen and were not defended by soldiers, so it seems more like they would flee, return, and rebuild.

Gold rings and coins were uncovered by the archeologists from what they believe were the trash heaps – probably where fleeing villagers “hid” precious items.

There weren’t many options for lunch along the route, so we stopped at one of the more highly recommended spots on Yelp: Benard Kavanaugh’s Million Dollar View restaurant, which was a glorified beach snack bar, complete with vinegar for the fries and soft serve ice cream cones. It did have a pretty view though, and don’t think we would’ve found anything different food-wise. Dad had a local Quidi Vidi beer from St. John’s – not the Iceberg beer that they claim to be made with ancient iceberg water, but the regular pilsner.

Ferryland was worth the trip and was a pretty cool experience: to see where Lord Baltimore originally thought he might set up shop to being on an active dig site. And look what was flying over the visitor center:

Maryland flag at colony of Avalon visitor center
Maryland flag at colony of Avalon visitor center

 

colorful buildings in Leadville

Denver Fun

At the tail end of our relaxing vacation out West in Colorado, Mark and I spent the weekend in Denver. We were in Denver last fall as well, but only for a brief moment, so we were able to do some different things this time around.

We drove in to town Friday afternoon, after stopping for a lunch of pizza and ice cream in historic Leadville – a town that looks like it’s out of the Old West.

Once making it to Denver, we changed and headed out to Union Station – a beautiful train station that has a bunch of bars and shops inside. We met some friends there, but being that it was overrun with the happy hour crowd, we made our way across the street instead to a Mexican restaurant for some pre-dinner margaritas. Then on to Range for a delicious dinner, where the thickly cut, crisp and sweet bacon appetizer was the best thing ever.

We used our Hilton points to stay at The Curtis – a downtown DoubleTree property – that has been ranked one of the best “art hotels.” Each floor has its own theme and the room and lobby art is more pop than your typical birds-and-flowers hotel pastels. Our floor was the “dance floor” and there were framed record albums lining the hallway.

It was a fun place to stay, but frankly, it was more Hilton-tries-to-be-boutique-hotel than actual independent boutique hotel. Oh well, staying on points is a win.

the curtis
The Curtis Hotel in Denver: rated a top art hotel – our room

Let’s be honest, I don’t mind dreaming underneath a giant ice cream cone!

Saturday morning, we got together with our cousins for an al fresco brunch before heading to Coors Field for a Colorado Rockies baseball game. The cool thing about Coors Field is that there is a huge open rooftop over right field with a few bars and interesting food options. You can wander around and chat with people, or take a seat in the upper deck to actually watch some of the game. For a bit more money, you can also rent out a lounge-y cabana, however you couldn’t see the game from there, so why bother?

Coors Field for Rockies baseball stadium
Coors Field for Rockies baseball

It was super stinking hot, but I was glad we went and saw some of the game and the stadium. I’m thinking it must have been built in the same era as Camden Yards because it has the same spacious and open, brick and brightly-painted steel feel. Fun fact: there’s a row of seats in the upper deck painted a different color to mark where you hit a “mile high” above sea level. Also fun: drinking a Coors Light at Coors Field, duh.

We wandered around town back towards the hotel and had an early dinner of pizza (of course) at a cute restaurant called Osteria Marco on Larimer Square. Interestingly enough, we had the same waitress as the prior evening at Range – weird!

We were so exhausted that we called it an early night and hit the airport early the next morning. It was such a great trip, I was sad to come home!

Aspen #FoodandWine

What a wonderfully relaxing vacation visiting Aspen a few weeks ago! Every morning Mark and I did a different hike, came back to The Timbers Club where we were the only ones enjoying the sunny pool deck, and then went out to delicious dinners in Aspen or Snowmass.

We accidentally found a perfect week to visit – the temperature was warm but not too hot, restaurants had reopened after the Off Season, and the town was still fairly quiet prior to the unofficial summer season kick-off: The Aspen Food & Wine Classic that brings chefs and foodies together for a huge, town-wide party. We were tempted to book our trip during that exciting weekend (which was this past weekend), but in the end, I’m glad we didn’t because we had zero trouble getting reservations at the some of the best restaurants, our hiking paths were quiet and there were probably more staff than guests at our residences.

Having done a bit of pre-research on the dining scene, I made a few reservations at Aspen’s heavy hitting restaurants: Chef’s Club by Food & Wine in the St. Regis Hotel (there’s also one in NYC), AJAX Tavern (the place to be seen apres-ski…although there was only one day left of skiing during our time there), and Matsuhisa (amazing sushi from chef Nobu Matsuhisa of Nobu restaurants around the world).

Not wanting to whip out my camera (aka phone) at these upscale establishments, unfortunately I don’t have any photos from these places.

Chef’s Club – A. I loved the decor: stark white with snowflake-inspired lattice across the ceiling; an open kitchen that was framed by rustic wooden beams, making it seem like you were peeking through a knot in a tree Keebler Elves style and a long row of seats facing in to the numerous chefs working within; contemporary, colorful pop art and drawings of famous chefs around the walls.

B. The food was decadent and over the top rich but beautifully executed and delicate. Mark and I split the branzino (served whole and upright like it was swimming across the plate) and the halibut. Both were buttery and delicious and the branzino was served in a sweet and spicy coconut curry broth with other seafood. The light and slightly sparkly Albarino I drank with my whipped ricotta appetizer was delightful, as was the stoney Sancerre I had with the fish.

C. Each year after the Food & Wine Classic, a new line up of chefs work at the restaurant, each creating his or her own unique dish(es). Since we arrived before the Classic, the new chefs weren’t yet installed, so the menu was made up of the “best of the best” of the prior year’s menus.

AJAX Tavern was good but standard food and nothing more to really comment on there.

Sushi at Matsuhisa was AH-mazing. I had yellowtail sashimi with jalapeno and a spicy crunchy tuna roll (that they made without mayo for me), and Mark had the miso black cod which was rich and flaky. Everything was so good. Not cheap. But delicious and the service was excellent as well.

Some other food highlights from our trip:

Sitting at the bar at the historic J-Bar in Hotel Jerome which has the original wooden lattice work behind the bar and tin ceiling tiles. After our morning hike, Mark had their famous Aspen Crud, which is a bourbon and vanilla ice cream milk shake.

J-Bar at the Jerome Hotel
J-Bar at the Jerome Hotel
J Bar
J Bar
J Bar at the Hotel Jerome
the restaurant part of J Bar

Taking the J-Bar bartender’s recommendation to go to a new cocktail bar, Hooch, where we had the bar to ourselves and the bartender mixed us all sorts of different drinks with rye and fernet (not together).

Dinner at New Belgium Ranger Station in Snowmass Village, where we had a salty pepperoni pretzel roll and New Belgium beer (the Colorado brewery that makes Fat Tire).

So I didn’t get to our Denver adventures yet…next time!

Maroon Bells

Aspen Hiking

Mark and I just got back from an awesomely relaxing week in Colorado: Aspen, Snowmass and Denver. We were lucky enough to be the recipients of an extremely generous offer to stay at The Timbers in Snowmass – a club with a friendly and welcoming staff.

driving to Snowmass
driving to Snowmass

We hit the timing perfectly between seasons: restaurants and shops were reopen after the April/May offseason, but everything was pretty quiet prior to next week’s Food & Wine Classic which is the unofficial kick-off to summer that brings thousands of visitors to the villages.

at the top of Aspen Mountain (we took the gondola up)
at the top of Aspen Mountain (we took the gondola up) – it was the last day of skiing at the top!

Our apartment set up was perfect and 180 degrees opposite from our NYC apartment, in that it was HUGE! Three bedrooms, three bathrooms, an enormous kitchen with every appliance and amenity you could ever want, a fireplace, large deck and a grill. It was fabulous to lounge about reading books and snacking on chips and salsa that the staff had pre-bought for us, along with other breakfast and lunch groceries.

the huge apartment!
the huge apartment!

Each day while we were staying in Snowmass, we took a morning hike on Snowmass or Aspen trails (we were staying on East Coast time as much as possible so waking up bright and early), spent the afternoon by the pool (which we usually had all to ourselves) and then cleaned up and went out for a yummy dinner.

lounging by the pool
lounging by the pool

One day we also took a day-trip to the town of Basalt for lunch, gallery-hopping and to march around the self-guided tour of the historic sites.

Hike #1: Maroon Bells & Crater Lake – One of the most photographed spots in Colorado, Maroon Bells mountains were picture-perfectly reflected in the lake below. We only went the one morning, but I would’ve loved to go back at different times of the day to see the varying colors and light. There were very few people around, and Mark spotted two moose before we hiked another mile or two past to Crater Lake, a peacefully quiet spot for a snack.

Maroon Bells - look at that reflection!!
Maroon Bells – look at that reflection!!

 

crystal clear reflection at Maroon Bells
crystal clear reflection at Maroon Bells

Hike #2: Smuggler’s Mountain – Definitely the hottest trek we took, which was also one of the steepest up an unpaved road to a cool look-out over Aspen.

the trail names are like Candyland! We unfortunately didn't make it to the Lollipop or Tootsie Roll trails
the trail names are like Candyland! We unfortunately didn’t make it to the Lollipop or Tootsie Roll trails

Hike #3: Rim Trail South – In Snowmass there is a fairly quick hike to a look-out called Yin Yang (due to the marble yin yang symbol embedded in the marble slab at the top of the mountain). We then trekked further on, coming to Sinclair Road, where the lovely staff came to pick us up. As the name implies, the trail following the ridge of the mountains, with great views down both sides. Some sections were slightly vertigo-inspiringly-cliffy.

View from the Rim Trail
View from the Rim Trail

Hike #4: Hunter’s Creek Trail – This was one of my favorite hikes that took us through the woods along the “creek” which was really more like a raging river. We took it almost until the point that it met up with Smuggler’s Mountain, but once the incline started getting really steep, I turned us around to head back.

Hunter's Creek
Hunter’s Creek

Hike #5: Grottos – In Independence Pass (a scary cliff-hanging road out of Aspen that’s only open in the summer), there are ice caves and “cascades” (again, an understatement since this was also quite the river/waterfall sequence) that you can climb around and over, with great spots for relaxing and lunching.

Next up: The dining scene and Denver

 

 

On The Move

I’m on the road today so no new Pizza Review but follow my travels along with those of my dad (who is currently on vacation in the Middle East) on my Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/hannahlowecorman/

Dad has been sending some great shots and since he doesn’t have Instagram, I’ve been posting some of his pics along the way. Definitely check them out (like this one of Qatar)!

image

 

 

Happy Belated Flag Day!

June 14th, 2013.  I can’t believe it.  It’s already been a complete year, 365 days, since I quit my job and wrote my first blog post!  Time has seriously flown by.  I still feel like a newbie to this unemployment (or part-time employment) game.

Okay, so just to recap:

I quit my banking job and started a blog.

I got engaged and moved halfway across the country.

I went to Northern and Western Michigan, Texas (twice), Chicago (twice), Baltimore (numerous times), New York (at least twice), San Francisco & Napa Valley, Paris, Mexico and Jamaica.

I got two very involved volunteer jobs as a sorority advisor and Cancer Support Community fundraiser.

I got two less involved real (aka paying…although very little) jobs as a yoga teacher and writer for Detroit.Eater.com.

I baked, read and generally hibernated away the coldest, snowiest winter.

And I planned (and am still planning) this wedding.

Somehow that seems like a lot but not really anything either.

Time is flying by at a scarily fast pace but I’m also anxious for certain things to hurry up and get here.

I feel incredibly busy everyday but I also feel like the things that are keeping me busy are things that I would’ve done in my old life squeezed around time at a 9-5+ job.  So what am I doing with myself?  And why am I still thinking about myself in relation to a job when intellectually I know that we are not (or should not be) defined by our professions.  I wrote “writer” on my immigration form entering Jamaica.  It was weird not to write “banker” and I had a moment of hesitation like someone would call me out on not really being a writer.  Like, who defines these jobs: writer, artist, singer…is it just what you think you are?  Or should you be getting paid?  Not that it matters on an immigration form.  Those people don’t care.  So long as you don’t write “terrorist” I guess.

Well thank you WordPress for that Happy Anniversary note.