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Tuesday 30 January 2018

Wiarton Willie

Wiarton Willie Predicts 6 More Weeks of Salad.

Location: Wiarton, Ontario, Canada
Date: Aug 2017
Website: www.southbrucepeninsula.com

  On February 2nd there will be a lot of rodents predicting the weather.  One of the best known is Punxsutawney Phil.  Even Bill Murray spent the day over and over again with him in the movie Groundhog Day.  In Ontario, the most famous groundhog is Wiarton Willie.  If the groundhog sees its shadow and retreats back into its den then we will get 6 more weeks of winter.  If the groundhog does not go back into its den then it will be an early spring.

Welcome To Wiarton.

  We visited Wiarton on our way to Tobermory.  We made sure we visited the monuments placed around town as well as the actual Willie.  As you enter the town on Highway 6 you will see the town Welcome sign.

Willie See His Shadow?

  The sign says Wiarton and has a big, plump, cartoon groundhog standing next to it waving.  Yes the groundhog (above) is white because Willie is an albino.  The part of Wiarton Willie has been played by many groundhogs throughout the years, but to our knowledge they have always been white.

Willie Emerges.

  Another Wiarton Willie statue is located further into town in Bluewater Park next to Georgian Bay.  It is called "Willie Emerges".

Willie Looks For His Shadow.

This statue is carved out of stone and shows Willie standing up and alert keeping a lookout.

To All The Groundhogs We Loved Before.

  There is also a memorial to all the Willies that have come and gone.  Sadly, the Willie we visited died the next month at 13 years old.  That is quite old for a groundhog and the town of Wiarton also has younger backup Willies just in case.  Willie's understudies if you will.

Wiarton WIllie's Home.

  In the park next to the Dockside Willie's restaurant we saw none other than Wiarton Willie himself.  He lives in a special enclosure that was designed with the help of the Toronto Zoo.  He digs holes, eats his vegetables and sunbathes all year until it is time to head inside for winter.  He then emerges to make his special prognostication on February 2nd.  While his predictions may not always be right, we know Willie will be part of a good bit of fun at the beginning of February.

Map of Our World
Wiarton Welcome Sign , Wiarton Willie Statue
Wiarton Willie

Post # 205

Saturday 20 January 2018

Lynde Shores Conservation Area

Deer Greet Us As We Arrive.

Location: Whitby, Ontario, Canada
Address:  1285 Victoria St W.
Date: Jan 2017
Website: cloca.com

  If you are willing to brave the chilly temperatures, there is a lot of wildlife to be seen during the cold winter months.  That is exactly what we did one January day when we headed to Lynde Shores Conservation Area in Whitby.  The animals did not disappoint.  Even as we drove down the road, a group of white-tailed deer looked up from their grazing to greet us.

Who Is In The Trees?

  The main attraction was a barred owl that we had heard was in the area and it also did not disappoint.  No sooner had we parked the car when we noticed paparazzi gathered on the edge of the pathway.  On the other side of the path was a beautiful barred owl perched in a tree.  With every move the owl made you could hear the whiz and click of camera shutters.  The owl seemed unperturbed and even flew down once to capture something before returning to its perch.

Who Cooks For You? Who Cooks For You All?

  Barred owls are a fairly large owl.  They have big black sunken eyes.  We could tell the owl was keeping a close watch on everything going on around it.  We took a few pictures and then left the owl and the scrum of photographers behind us as we explored the trails.

Oh Deer.

  We didn't have to travel far before we encountered some deer again.  They were all over the trail but quickly hid in the bushes as we approached.  These were white-tailed deer.  Their tails may be brown or have black on them, but they get their name from when they run.  As they flee,  they flip up their tail exposing the all white underneath.

Frozen Marsh.

  The trail leads to a lookout over a marshy area.  Today it was frozen solid and we did not see any sign of activity as we scanned the area.

Lake Ontario.

  We headed south towards Lake Ontario.

Floating Geese.

  As we stood on the shore we could see a large group of geese just floating out on the water.

Canada Geese.

  Closer inspection revealed that this was a large group of Canada Geese.  They looked like they may have settled in for the night with plans to float and bob until morning.

Lynde Shores Sunset.

  Daylight was quickly disappearing as the sun started to set through the clouds.

Good Night Owl.

  We traveled back along the pathway and the owl was still exactly where we had left him.  The group of photographers was still there too, hoping to catch the owl swooping down for its prey.  It is not uncommon for barred owls to be out during the day, but as darkness falls the hunting gets easier.  This was the first owl that we had ever seen and the fact that it was so close and visible was an added bonus.

Map of Our World
Lynde Shores Conservation Area

Post # 204

Wednesday 10 January 2018

A Night In The Ice Hotel (Hotel de Glace)

Ice Hotel At Night

Location: Saint-Gabriel-de-Valcartier, Quebec, Canada
Address:  1860 Boulevard Valcartier
Date: Feb 2010
Website: www.hoteldeglace-canada.com

  The Hotel de Glace or The Ice Hotel is located just north of Quebec City.  It is built out of snow and ice each December and tourists come to admire the beautifully carved rooms.  We blogged about these in a previous post.  Guests can start spending the night in January.  We spent a night in early February 2010.

Shovel The Roof.

  Quebec gets a lot of snow and gets very cold.  There was so much snow that a team of shovellers had to go to work clearing the roof of a nearby lodge.  As far as the cold, outside of the hotel it often drops below -25 Celcius.  Inside the hotel it is around -5 Celcius.  To spend a night here is a bit of a challenge.

The Lodge.

  Just in case you need some real warming up, there is a lodge next to the Ice Hotel.  It is a regular structure with normal temperatures inside.  This is where we had lockers to keep our luggage, clothes  and toiletries  We also had trouble sleeping and visited this area a few times during the night.

Long Snow Hallway.
 Doorway In The Ice.

  Our room was not one of the fancy rooms with carved sculptures inside, but a simple space for us to sleep.   The room was located down one of the long snowy hallways that got even harder to navigate in the middle of the night.

Chambre 8 Room 8

  The doorway is just a curtain which is part of the reason you keep your belongings in the lodge.   The bed is made from ice and wood and then covered with a fur.

Thermal Sleeping Bags.

    Aside from wearing thermal undergarments we were also given our special sleeping bags.  They were designed to keep you warm in extreme temperatures.  They had a double layer and a zipper inside so you could zip yourself up like you were in a cocoon.  They would cover over part of your face and then there was a hood to pull over your head to reduce skin exposure.  The only issue for one of us was that the biggest bag they had was still a little too short.  Any sort of kicking or stretching while you were sleeping and it would pull tight on the hood and you would wake up in a panic.  Fortunately you could unzip quickly to finish the stretch, but it made for a long night.

Ice Bar.

  The best part about spending the night in the Hotel de Glace was that once the busloads of tourists left we had the place pretty much to ourselves.  We headed to the Ice Bar.

Roaring Fire inside the Ice Hotel.
 Cheers!  Frozen Glasses.

  At the bar you could get a drink inside a glass made of ice.  We enjoyed a few of these and when we were done the bartender just threw them behind the bar.  The ice was specially formed so it would not stick to your face.  It did melt a bit as you sipped your beverage while dancing to the DJ.  The glasses also did some neat tricks when we slid them across the tables made of... what else but ice.

The Bar After Hours.

  Eventually even the bar had to close.  We went and did some more night time exploring.

The Facilities.

    In a small open section there were washrooms and change rooms located in a small building.   We made a few visits here in the night due to the combination of the cold and the time spent at the bar earlier.

Arctic Spa.

  If you were really brave you could run to one of the hot tubs and sit out under the stars.  We didn't see anyone brave enough to go for a dip that evening.

Hotel de Glace In The Night.

   Aside from a few drunken people that mumbled something at us, the only other person around in the middle of the night was a security guard near the main gate.

La Torche.

  There were torches allowing us to find our way back into the hallways that would lead us to our room once more.


  Eventually morning arrived and we packed up our gear and left our fantasy castle of ice.  We had a once in a lifetime experience and some great stories to tell.  The Ice Hotel is beautiful, but we were planning to get a better night's sleep at the Chateau Frontenac that evening.

Map of Our World
Hotel de Glace

Post # 203