Mind, Motion & Matter

Running, Essentially . . .


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Getting back to it!

I wanna get back to it, yes I do. And I don’t mean running, I mean blogging. It has been two weeks since my last blog post.

I took a full week off after running the NYC marathon on November 6th. The first week back to running went something like this;  3 miles, 3 miles, 3 miles, 1 mile (to Walmart and back on a busy day), 4 miles, 3 miles, 4 miles for a 17 mile week.

So far this week (starting Monday); I’ve run 5 miles, 4 miles, 6 miles and 4 miles and am aiming for about 35 miles. This light running has been enjoyable and strangely, my weight has dipped to lower than my ideal marathon running weight.  This made me wonder for a moment if I might have a tapeworm. A reversal of when I returned from a holiday unaware that I had gained six pounds and wondered if my bathroom scale was broken.

One of the nice things about my shorter runs is that I’ve been able to enjoy quite a few runs with my husband. He is limited to runs of about 3 miles with the osteoarthritis in his knee. Well, actually he is not supposed to run at all but you know how it is for someone like him who has been running for about four decades.

My sister, mother of a 3, 5, 7 & 9 year old making a quick getaway via Porter Air

I should mention a little about what I did in New York with my sister when I was not running the marathon. We ate well, our first meal was at a small trattoria called Il Violino in the Upper West Side. I had a meatball appetizer, ravioli and pannacotta and I can’t think of any Italian meal I’ve had in Toronto’s Little Italy area where we live to rival it. My sister’s linguine primavera was exquisite.

I'm always ready for pannacotta

On Saturday we lunched at Nobu47 an upscale Japanese restaurant. I’ve decided that upscale Japanese is the way to go when in NYC as the serene decor helps offset the busy pace of the city. On a scale of 1-5 I would give the food a 3.5 although the rock cod with miso that my sister ordered was a 4.5. Last December when I was in San Francisco after running the Sacramento marathon my husband and I enjoyed a spectacular Japanese meal at Yoshi’s.

Rock cod with miso is a winner

My favourite part of the meal was dessert, chocolate fondant cake combined with green tea ice cream. I first came to know green tea ice cream when I worked at a Japanese restaurant the summer of 1976 when the Olympics were in Montreal. I used to sneak down to the basement freezer and serve myself a scoop now and again.

All's well that ends with dessert

The pre-marathon lunch

It was a bit frustrating not to be able to throw myself totally into visiting with my sister. Because of this I am planning to take a day off next week to spend with her in downtown Toronto, visiting the AGO, lunching at LUMA and doing a bit of Christmas shopping.

A few weeks ago my sister ran the Scotiabank Toronto Watefront Half-Marathon her first in over 10 years, about 40 minutes faster she ever had. I’m hoping to convince her to try the Around the Bay 30K – my next goal!  I registered for this race a few days after returning from NYC. I’m eager to get back on the horse and ride!

p.s. Thank you to all those who sent encouraging emails after reading about the TKO.


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Gone running . . . 2 weeks@114K

Nearly two weeks since my last post.  Could it have anything to do with my training for NYC and working twice the number of hours designated to my job, which I love in spite of its busyness.  Perhaps.

Just another early morning run to the lake

I ran 114K or 70 miles each of the last two weeks but my life was not just about work and running, although blogging is taking a big hit. Here are some highlights of the past two weeks.

Cool crisp day by the falls

I was in Niagara Falls for a couple of days although I did put in full days of work, the view from my temporary office was great and I ate well.

Consumed in Niagara Falls

I ran 22 miles/34K on Saturday and my husband did a fantastic job of feeding me over the weekend.

What I ate after running 34K

  • We celebrated my husband’s birthday at our local Scottish pub the Caledonian.
  • I treated a new friend from Venezuala to a latte and left the cafe without paying.

My view from my office in Niagara Falls

  • I got my bike fixed up and it is now rides really well. I was not impressed with the tune-up done at Bike Couture but very impressed with the tune-up after the tune-up at Set Me Free on College at Grace street.
  • Our marriage sharing group reconvened after the summer break.
  • I ran into a new friend when she was in the middle of her longest run ever and we got to run together for a few miles.
  • I had breakfast with my former coach Zeba Crook who now teaches at Carelton.
  • I count my blessings while I make steady progress through Romeo Dallaire’s “Shake Hands with the Devil”.

The brother of one of my Saturday run pals died last week, giving us all pause to consider the fullness of our lives and the gifts sent our way.

Here is a  snippet from a favourite William Blake poem which I read at a friend’s “Celebration of Life” many years ago.

I thought Love lived in the hot sunshine,
But O, he lives in the moony light!
I thought to find Love in the heat of day,
But sweet Love is the comforter of night.

Seek Love in the pity of others’ woe,
In the gentle relief of another’s care,
In the darkness of night and the winter’s snow,
In the naked and outcast, seek Love there!

Thank you for reading . . .


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Now we are four (runners)

I’ve set a record for the longest interval between blog posts of 8 days.  Surpassing the previous lapse of 7 days.  I have been and busy! I logged 60 hours of work and 60 miles of running with little time left to blog.

Wychwood barns

Sharing Saturday chores for a change

I started the week with aspirations to hit 70 miles however on my runs last Sunday and Monday, I felt as though I was running the final miles of a marathon as my legs were super-heavy.  Thus I knew that it was time to back off a little. I had planned to do a tempo run on Tuesday but instead ran an easy 7 miles.  I did a 45 minute section of tempo running on a 10 miler on Wednesday.  Even though I broke the 45 minutes into four sections I was not able to get my heartrate into the threshold zone consistently  because my legs went dead on me after the first 8 minutes.

Wychwood barns

Oh so succulent

I reconfigured the sequence of my workouts due to my belief that our annual family event was on Saturday and did my long run on Friday morning.  I set out with a minimum goal of 16 miles given the results of the last hard workout but happily felt good enough to get in 18 miles. I discovered on Friday afternoon that the family event was on Sunday not Saturday.  I decided to defer the 10 miler I had planned for Sunday to Monday in favour of being less rushed and also to give myself another rest day.

Wychwood barns

Beautiful beets

My husband usually does the meat and vegetable shopping on Saturdays while I’m running.  Due to my confusion about dates I was able to go along with him to the farmer’s market at the Wychwood Barns.  This market is on one of my long run routes and it was the first time I had been there in my civvies as prior visit have been when I needed to make a pit stop.

Wychwood barns

Fresh & fruity

Today I ran 10 miles with 8 x 2 minutes hard. The cooler temperature and the extra rest was a help as I felt great!  There is a lot of exciting stuff going on at our place. Our son just moved back from his year internship at Research in Motion and both he and his friend Alain, who lives with us, are going to join my husband and I in the Scotiabank Charity Challenge. Before I had begun my workout, Alain was back from his run and just as I finished my run, Steven appeared, having just finished his. When my husband returned from his workout, he cooked up a big breakfast, well-deserved by all.

To find out more about what is keeping our household fit click on Scotiabank Charity Challenge to see our motivation.  CLICK HERE to find out more and perhaps place a pledge on me 🙂 If you would like to join our team just send your inquiry as a comment on this post.

Peace


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1st Year Blog Anniversary – My Favourite Posts

My blog made its debut a year ago today.  Born as a final project for a course on blogging at OCAD. To celebrate, I briefly looked over the 287 posts I made over my first year and chose my favourites.  My average rate of posting per week was just over 5 posts.  Over the first few months of the year, I had aspirations to post as much as I ran and joined the WordPress postaday club.  However my commitment to organize the People4Kids fundraising gala last May 3rd took priority and my rate of posting dwindled.

Hours after finishing the CIM - Feeling good!

Since the blogging course I’ve taken digital photography, InDesign and Adobe Illustrator courses and that too has consumed much time.  So I’ve reset my sights on posting 2-four times a week. So here are my favourites, in no particular order.

The Final Mile, a State of Grace

Running the final mile of the California International Marathon (CIM) in Sacramento last December.

Slainte

About an 8K race run prior to the CIM.

19 Miles & Moore Park Ravine

My longest run in preparation for the marathon run on one of my favourite Toronto routes.

Ready, Set . . . Bake

A day of baking for a good cause shared with a friend.

ACE-ing Portland at the NINES

Our highly enjoyable adventures in Portland, Oregon.

I Think My Bathroom Scale is Broken

The post that got me Freshly Pressed with 2061 hits in one day.

Blogging Jogger Gets Freshly Pressed

My feelings on getting Freshly Pressed.

Haines, Sweet Haines

A visit to a special place in Alaska.

Happy in Haines

More about this special place.

If My Husband Had a Tatoo

A bit about my husband’s running accomplishments.

Thank you to all my subscribers and those who tell me that they enjoy reading my blog.  Your readership makes blogging fun and keeps me motivated.


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Massage Runs – How easy is that?

Lake Ontario

Favourite turnaround point

Ta da . . . I got my 55 miles the week past with a very easy 5 mile run Sunday morning.  This run was what I call a “massage run”.  Reasons for running this pace include; long run recovery, race recovery and double-run days.  Sometimes I joke that one of my strengths as a marathoner is my ability to run slow.  Some runners just do not have the temperament to run those slow miles that boost total mileage and total fitness. Their view is that running that slow is well, not really running.

Often times mileage accumulated this way are disparaged as junk miles.  Defined so if one takes a narrow view of training methods as a quantity versus quality. High mileage programs may essentially be the same as the low mileage quality programs except for the addition of those extra easy and very easy runs which at the 100 mile a week level might give you an extra 15-20 miles a week. At the peak of my training in years past I ran 11 times a week, with 4 days of double-workouts with most of those second runs falling into the very easy or massage pace zone.

What do those additional miles do for a runner?  Some like Matt Fitzgerald author of Mind, Body Running suggest that high-mileage training is one of the factors that improve running economy.  Anecdotely, I’ d agree that at the end of those high-mileage weeks the body is very motivated to find the most economical way to keep on moving.  You also in the most gradual of ways increase the strength of the musculoskeletal system and gently improve aerobic conditioning.

On the subject of real easy, non-running style here’s a quick recap of some of the things I’ve been up to in the past week or so that I have done while not running.  We went to a couple of theatre events, the first a sketch comedy production called All Grown Up by Asiansploitation a troupe we’ve followed for the past couple of years. The other Kim’s Convenience, voted best play at the Toronto Fringe Festival.  One very hot afternoon we escaped to the movies to see Cowboys and Aliens. I also watched The Fighter on DVD for the second time.  Really enjoyed that one, a classic sport redemption tale which I give ****1/2 out of 5 stars.

Kim's Convenience

Encore for Kim's Convenience, Best of the Toronto Fringe Festival

As for eating, we very much enjoyed a lunch at Pizza Libretto on Ossington avenue which included absolutely amazing vanilla ice cream and the best pannacotta I’ve ever tasted.  I was very proud of the Chap Chae, a Korean noodle dish that I made for an international pot luck dinner last night.  I made this with two very recently arrived acquaintances from North Korea in mind.

Chap Chae

Chap Chae, Korean Yam Noodle dish

Tonight due to a late departure from work we ate at the Caledonian, the only Scottish pub in Toronto where I took pleasure in one of my favourite dining out meals, a burger with fries.  Eat to run, run to eat . . . it is a good life.

Pannacotta

Best pannacotta ever!


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For those who run every day, this is moderation

As planned, I got in 45 miles this week.  I was also more conscious of eating moderately as opposed to eating as much and whatever I want.  One example is a variation on the usual breakfast I order when my father-in-law takes us out to his favourite breakfast spot. Normally, I relish one of Ricky’s famous big breakfasts, the Perogy and Egg Platter which includes; 3 eggs, 7 perogies with grilled onions, your choice of bavarian, chorizo or calabrese sausage and toast.

To moderate this indulgence I convinced my husband to share this big breakfast with me along with a waffle breakfast.  I call it the breakfast buffet. In case you were wondering, we split the 7th perogy in half.

Big breakfast

Big breakfast, split two ways

Waffles, breakfast dessert

Waffles, breakfast dessert for two

Today I’m baking a pie for my father-in-law.  I love the way he hints that it would be nice if I baked a pie. Actually, the beauty of it is that he says, “Are you going to bake a pie?” and then laughs and says he is just kidding me.  I can’t really tell if he is teasing me or hinting but I always commit  to baking a pie, in this case a lemon meringue pie.  I am quite vain about my pie making prowess so it doesn’t take much to get me going.  This is the third pie I’ve baked in the past month.

I have an internal rating system for each effort.  I baked a blueberry pie for a BBQ for workmates which was a disappointing *C*, about the lowest score I have given myself. Of course, I don’t mention the rating system to the eaters as I know any home baking is usually appreciated and most often better than anything store bought. I’m trying to get over making excuses and being too hard on myself for what I cook or bake for others.  As for the moderation, I never say no to my own baking, after all the joy of running is connected to the joy of baking but I will stick to one serving.

I baked a lemon meringue pie for a departing work colleague which turned out very well, an *A* effort.  What made it fall short of an A+?  That would be the aesthetics.  It looked fine and the crust was nicely browned but the edging was very basic with no fancy leaf patterns or other embellishments I sometimes create.

My father-in-law has good reason to remember me for my pies.  For my in-laws 50th Anniversary I baked nine pies in one day.  We had a very big crowd at a brother-in-law’s cottage which was one part of an all-weekend celebration.  I was very touched by my father-in-law’s public appreciation of my efforts which was really the least I could do.  I baked apple pie, blueberry pie, peach pie and rhubarb-raspberry pie.  Other pies in my repertoire include my famous sweet potato pie flavoured with maple syrup and pecan pie drizzled with chocolate.  Pies I aspire to make are banana cream pie, coconut cream pie and cherry pie.

Lemon meringue pie

Today's lemon meringue pie gets a B+

With increased mileage, I find myself looking forward to baking a little more.  Bring on the pies . . . I mean miles.


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Toronto, Lately . . .

For my last few posts I’ve been dwelling on the details of our vacation, with encouragement in that direction as one of those posts was Freshly Pressed.  But, it is time to get back to my blogging basics, my daily run and the life in which that is embedded.

Winston Churchill Park, Toronto

View from Winston Churchill Park, Toronto (Blackberry photo)

The most scenic parts of Toronto are the ravines.  I can do 18 miles from my very urban location and run close to 70% of that on paths or wooded trails.  This route includes the Cedarvale Ravine, the Beltline, Mt. Pleasant cemetery and Moore Park Ravine.  You can check out my favourite route through Moore Park Ravine HERE.

I’m getting back in the groove with training and logged 40 and then 41 miles the past two weeks.  I’m on track to run 42-45 miles this week.  With the return to my regular running routine and avoiding sweets, other than the blueberry and lemon pies I baked, I’ve lost those five pounds gained on holiday.  Those were the pounds that made me deduce that our bathroom scale was broken.  More likely culprits than the scale malfunction are the following concoctions that would add a little zest to any vacation.  My ideal training weight is 107-108 pounds, which at just a bit over 5 feet, 1 inch is considered, by some exacting medical charts an ideal weight for my height.  I was told by my chiropractor that my consistently light weight was one of the reasons why I have stayed injury free for my past 25 years of my 30 years of running.

Lemon Cheesecake

Lemon cheesecake, Rocanini Coffee Roasters, Steveston, B.C.

Mango Bread Pudding

Mango Bread Pudding, Stowaway Cafe, Skagway AK

With the exception of my weekly long run I usually head to Lake Ontario and head east or west on the Martin Goodman Trail.  On Thursday I decided to go northeast as picking up a specialty item for a Japanese dish I was reparing for a Canada Day picnic would be a time saver.  This route took me through the Nordheimer Ravine and two mini-wetland projects, the Roycroft and Glen Edyth wetlands which goes past Winston Churchill park.  Winston Churchill park has a unique view of the CN Tower in that is almost a totally green view.  I did 7 or 8 sections of fast running which included stairs and uphills and then headed home with a stop at the P.A.T. Central Asian grocery store on Bloor, west of Bathurst.

Abura-Age

Abura-age, fried bean curd

On Wednesday my husband went to see his knee doctor.  He was expecting to get another cortisone shot but was told not to play any sports or run and to return if pain returned.  My husband concludes that he will have to wear a fake mustache when he does his meager amount of running, just in case Dr. ______ is around the next corner. He agreed with me that if he wants to get serious about running regularly, he will have to lighten the load on his knee.  So he has set a goal to go under 160 pounds, a loss of 6-7 pounds.  He was about 140 pounds when I met him and still looks slim at 167 pounds but to have any chance of getting back to his two hour weekend runs, lightness matters.

Maze gohan

Maze gohan

In addition to the Japanese dish, maze gohan, I baked two lemon poppy seed pound cakes for the family picnic buffet. I find my own baking the hardest to resist so with the array of fabulous picnic food and a holiday weekend ahead, the new regime of vigilant consumption is scheduled to begin on Monday.

Lemon poppyseed cake

Lemon poppyseed cake


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ACE-ing Portland at The NINES

Thanks to a flurry of emails from one of my four brothers, my husband and I decided to make Portland, Oregon the first stop on our Pacific Northwest tour. When I told him we had booked our flight from Toronto to Portland.  He sent me a notice of a hotel special from Hotwire and urged me to book at The NINES.  Which I did.  We were not disappointed.

The Nines Hotel, Portland

The Nines, a place for you and your honey bunny.

The Nines is located within a former mega-department store in the Meier & Frank Building.  There is still a downsized Macy’s within this landmark building but the hotel takes up floors seven and upward to the eighteenth, top floor.  The name, is a reference to the glory days of the building, “dressed to the nines” with various decorative elements reinforcing this theme.

The Nines

Rooms, all dressed up at The Nines

The price of the hotel at $129 was within five dollars of what we paid for a very basic room at one of Juneau’s top hotels shortly after. We were very “down” with that to borrow a youthful expression. The rooms were comfy and chic, the location superbly central, with the light rail transit system footsteps away and just a few blocks away from the ACE Hotel.

Ace Hotel

Coffee & good food flank the Ace Hotel

While in Portland my brother and I exchanged several text messages via Blackberry messenger, including one where he asked if I loved the lobby of the ACE Hotel as much as he did.  Just off the lobby is a Stumptown Coffee Roasters Cafe, so when you get your coffee there, you can then hang out in the ACE Hotel lobby.

ACE Hotel Lobby

Casual Corner at the ACE Hotel

What did I love about the lobby?  Was it the offhand chic, and truly casual atmosphere where you felt perfectly comfortable rearranging the modular sofa to your needs.  Perhaps that comfort level was an offshoot of the duct tape repairs on the immense coffee table with cactii and succulents as the centerpiece.  Lining the passage to the lobby were to-the-ceiling bookshelves and in the lobby itself were bikes for hire and an icon of instant photography, a vintage four shot, photo booth.

Ace Hotel

Duct tape detailing carries the day

I held back on professing love, mainly because I wondered if we, who seemed to always be the oldest pair “in the house” were entitled to “love” the place.  The creative and hip ambience had me wondering if the Drake Hotel and the Gladstone Hotel in Toronto drew inspiration from the ACE.

While the Drake is far more “sheeshy” or “chi chi” and self-consciously arty it is not quite as inviting and cozy.  We stayed at the Drake Hotel one night, even though it is only one mile from our home just a couple of blocks off my running route.  We were the successful bidders on an overnight stay there at a silent auction fundraiser for our local YMCA.  The room by the way, was a lesson in good, functional design and the food at the Drake is always terrific, with fried chicken on buttermilk pancakes a pleasant brunch memory.

Stumptown Coffee at the Ace Hotel

Stumptown coffee at the ACE, yes, I love it!

As for the coffee, Stumptown Coffee Roasters is acknowledged as giving Portland the edge over Seattle as best coffee town in North America. In Canada, Stumptown is only available at two LIT Espresso bars in Toronto. One of the locations is a few blocks from us and our attention was drawn to the Stumptown difference and our good fortune in our proximity to LIT by the same brother who directed us to visit the lobby of the ACE Hotel.

In comparison, the atrium style lobby of  The Nines is of mammoth proportions, with a restaurant, pool room and several seating areas. I never made it to the fitness area but my husband reported that the treadmills had a screen where you could view a visual of a track. We also never made it to the highly recommended Asian inspired, rooftop restaurant.  You know there’s a lot going on in your hotel when you don’t have time to enjoy or even peek at all its amenities. And there is so much to do in this city with Powell’s the world’s largest, independent, used and new bookstore, a fabulous weekend market, fresh and unique take-out food in abundance at the many street vendors and easy access to running routes by the river.

Willamette River Walk, Portland Oregon

Nothing beats a river path for reducing the risk of losing your way while on a run.

p.s.  We don’t normally travel with a stuffed rabbit.  The one pictured in this post was purchased as a gift at the Japanese garden in Washington Park.


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Happy in Haines

Future site of cubic cabin

The weather in Haines, back in early June was superb and we were told, unusually summery.  First order of the day was a run, and a destination run at that.  I’m not the only one in my family to fall in love with Haines as my Whitehorse brother, an architect, recently bought a property in Haines.  Thus  sight number one, was his lot.

Final leg up the hill, breakfast just around the corner

His lot is on the edge of this town, in the uppermost reaches so it was quite a climb to get there and a bit too steep on the downhill to really enjoy an easy stride. But, man oh man, what a view!   Then, down to the water and a run over to the Mountain Cafe, THE place for coffee in Haines. This combo healthy food store and cafe sits at the conjunction of the major roads into the town. Having verified the location of where we would breakfast, I was eager to get on with the eating and shortened my run a bit.

I do cut myself a bit of slack while on vacation particularly since my husband has had to cut back his running as my primary goal is to spend time with HIM.  I’ve also cut back on travel shopping as well, for the very same reason.

Mountain Cafe, Breakfast Burritos

The Mountain Cafe met expectations with very good breakfast burritos and local hustle and bustle.  Then we walked to Fort Seward, so named for William H. Seward who negotiated the purchase of Alaska from the Russians.  The fort was decommissioned in 1947 and is now privately owned.  The original buildings now a combination of private residences, B&B’s, eateries galleries and studios.

Carrying on the Tinglit cultural traditions

Tinglit artist's supply room

Notable was the Alaskan Indian Arts centre with a gallery and studio  where we were able to informally tour the studio where totem poles are made.  To order a totem pole CLICK HERE  It was hard not to compare the quality and pricing of the work found here to the offerings of the ultra-commercialized Juneau.  Any cruise ship passenger happening upon this place would feel that they had connected to the “real” Alaska.

In the afternoon we went on a three-hour guided hike.  This was quite expensive but hikers are cautioned to travel in groups to minimize the risk of a bear attack.  I’ve heard various numbers cited for safety from parties of three to ten.  With eight in our group, including two guides, one armed with bear spray in a holster I felt safe.  Being of small stature, I’ve often thought it would be useful to have a very tall, hiking hat in the shape of some sort of menacing creature.

One of our guides, Lindy was a musician and naturalist.  She and her husband lived for years in a Yurt,  the portable, wood-framed and felt-covered dwelling of nomadic Mongolians.  Funnily enough her band played in Ottawa last year, for the Canada Day celebrations.  Lindy was able to tell when a bear had scratched its back on a tree, or whether a moose had gone by, by virtue of a few hairs left on bark or a bush.  Thankfully, she was also able to tell us that the very loud and scary sound we heard was not a mountain lion or a bear but the sound of humpbacks in the water nearby.

If it had been the two of us, in fear (or at least my fear) we could have set personal best times running back to the trail head.  Thanks to our guides we now cherish the memory of those otherworldly, sonorous and eerily musical sounds.  Sadly, we were not able to see the humpbacks through the thick forest cover but we came upon another group who were starry-eyed having seen the humpbacks play in a cove further on.  Excitedly we trekked on, hoping the whales would linger so we could enjoy the same.

Humpback whales hang out here

The word pristine was invented to describe places such as the destination cove and all those beautiful, mostly unnamed places in the north.  Wow!  The humpbacks were gone however and that was a bit disappointing.   Somewhere along the trail the topic of beer came up and this thread was eagerly pursued by our other guide.  He promised to take us to the Haines Brewing Company located in the state fairground, formerly the set of the movie White Fang.  Happily, time allowed and sampled some Spruce Tip Ale while I enjoyed a freshly brewed and delicious root beer.

Happiness is a bottle of spruce tip beer

From there we returned to the Fireweed Restaurant for dinner where we were greeted like regulars.  I wondered if this was because our two night in a row appearance set us apart from the majority of middle-aged folk who travel Alaska via cruise ship.  One of the couples on our hike were from California and they were amazed to discover that it was possible to travel down the Lynn Canal by state ferry.

The next day was our travel day to Whitehorse.  Sure wish we had more time on our hands but I know we will be back.

Haines, good for the soul


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Haines, Sweet Haines

A regal, eagle welcome

This little town on the Lynn Canal, a fjord in Alaska, is bypassed by cruise ships, save for one day a week, Wednesday, when a single ship docks.

I was introduced to Haines by virtue of taking part in the Kluane Chilkat International Bike Relay  which starts in Haines Junction, Yukon and ends in Haines, Alaska for a total of 148.1 miles.  I did a 20 mile leg with very modest elevation changes.  Whilst others had their work cut out for them, biking past the treeline as the temperature dropped accordingly.  The race ends in the Fort Seward compound, which affords a stunning view of mountain and sea.  That weekend the town was bursting at the seams with people and energy as the combination of the adrenalin high and the perfect weather in this northern haven was euphoric.  As a finale a fish fry in conjunction with the awards ceremony was held in the Fort Seward square.

View from Captain's Choice Patio, just steps from our room

My visit this year was my sixth to Alaska and my fourth to Haines but the very first visit with my husband.   Returning to Haines with him, was the most anticipated moment of our trip.  The ferry ride there was idyllic as described in a previous post, Where a Whale Was.

One of my must-do-one-day items (I’m not fond of the expression “bucket list”) is to visit Haines in November to witness the largest gathering of bald eagles in the world.  My last visit was in September and bald eagles could be spotted in threes and fours, regularly.  We saw one bald eagle in Juneau but I was a bit disappointed not to have seen more. Shortly after we got off the ferry and while waiting for our motel shuttle-car a bald eagle obliged my eagle-seeking-eyes and landed on atop the highest point on the ferry.

Fettucine with smoked salmon, fuel for the morning run

I was very keen to revisit a restaurant, the name of which I was uncertain but guessed to be Fireweed Restaurant.  There I had enjoyed the most delicious plate of pasta with pesto sauce in a most laid-back setting with a gorgeous view.  As we chatted with our driver from the Captain’s Choice Motel  my description of a restaurant called Fireweed seemed to match reality and we were driven straight there.

Does it get any better than dinner at the Fireweed?

How to describe the feeling I had in entering the Fireweed Restaurant.  There seemed to be a pause in the action as we entered, a quick glance to see what category of northern species we were; cruise people, who missed their boat, locals, adventurous youth, or rambunctious Whitehorse youngsters?  I’m guessing that we were sized up as Canadians from Whitehorse.  But, it was a curious rather than an intrusive pause and I imagined that there was a mutual meeting of hearts and minds in recognition that here we all are in this most cozy of restaurants, in a tiny northern paradise with a world class view.  None of us wishing to be elsewhere.

Sweet and timeless dreams start here.