Photographer Curds (Ottawa Vacation)

Canadian Parliament buildings

Our yearly October trip was Ottawa. Last year it was a cruise to Mexico,this year it was Ottawa. Hmm, it may not sound right, but it really is our destination. We are visiting some of Sox’s family, and spending some time in central Canada (it is NOT eastern Canada as I have been told).

We flew out of Victoria bright and early on a 7 am flight to Vancouver. With a slight layover we boarded our next plane to our nations capital. So far so good (besides getting up at some ungodly hour). Breakfast was served on the flight, and I will come right out and say it: the food was good.

Yes. The plane food was good. The scrambled eggs were tasty, the waffle adequate, but it had hidden underneath some cooked spiced apples that were very good. Alongside was some bread, some fresh fruit, and a small glass of OJ. All in all a tasty breaky.

The hours on the plane passed quickly. I read almost an entire novel since it was so good. Dan Brown’s Digital Fortress was my book. Once on the ground we collected our things and grabbed our rental car.

What was supposed to be a compact car, turned into a mini van. Ugh. A Chevy Uplander. Not a vehicle we will ever own, but perfect enough for renting.

Once situated at Sox’s families place, we visited for a bit then went to bed. Waking the next morning, I felt 100% adjusted to the time difference. I got up at 6 am, and had mind warp thinking it really was 3 am. I just jumped in with both feet and told myself that it was 6.

On Sunday (Oct 2), we went for a nice walk in Gatineau Park in Quebec. Beautiful place. The leaves were lagging a bit in their fall colors, but as a photographer, it was enough to give me a taste, and make me salivate. This hike though was a couple hours long, and I did stop to take a bunch of pictures along the way. Gorgeous area with lots of criss-crossing trails. Gatineau hiking pictures are here.

Monday was our touristy day. Taking a map we bravely headed out into the city headed for the war museum. It was fascinating. It was huge, so after the first hour I started skimming many of the displays. The museum felt new, and was all shiny and presentable. It truly is magnificent, but in a scary sort of way. The displays showed this history of war in Canada, from long to ago up to present. Sobering. I could spend another couple days poking around and reading. War museum pics are here.

Next up it was the parliament buildings. What better place for a Canadian to do when visiting their capital? We wandered around the grounds a bit, then got in line to enter the building. Tight security. As tight as the airport. Baggage was X-rayed. People walked through metal detectors. Owners of cellphones and laptops had to be demonstrate that they were working devices. Inside I was blown away by the amazing attention to detail. Truly works of art in themselves. The tiny details were inspiring.

We got in line to go up in the peace tower. 9 floors up the doors to the elevator opened, and there was a 25 foot by 25 foot room with windows. Somehow I was expecting something bigger up there. It was still incredible though. Back down on level ground we collected our van then headed “home”. Parliament pictures are here.

Before it got too dark we headed for Montreal to visit a friend of Sox’s. We were going to stay there for a couple days to catch up with them, and to allow me to experience Montreal. The drive itself was pretty. We were on the North side of the Ottawa river following a smaller highway that was much more scenic.

Tuesday we spent in Montreal. Parking downtown was interesting. We pulled into a parkade, and the guy in the booth demanded $14. Rather expensive, but what the hey. Forking over the cash we hit the streets walking. We toodled around downtown, walking towards Old Montreal. Very old feel to the area. The buildings here were quite amazing. As a photographer I could spend days here. Actually, between Montreal and Ottawa I could spend weeks in the area. The photographic opportunities were endless. Montreal pics are here.

In Old Montreal we wandered, poking around in some shops, stopping at a Ben and Jerrys shop for a cone (it was quite warm at 27 degrees), and generally being touristy. Very fun. We headed back to our vehicle taking a different route.

Next up for the day was Mont Royal. With Sox navigating (good job) we made our way up the mountain. We passed a very big and old looking cemetary that would have been a very amazing place to take pictures, in pretty much any conditions. At the lookout we took a few moments and took in the city. We were supposed to pay for parking, but come on, who would pay for parking when you were only planning on spending a few moments there. I guess if we were going to stay for half an hour, or planned to venture from where we were parked we would have, but we spent about ten minutes there.

Back at Sox’s friends house we had an excellent meal, then it was off to bed. We spent most of our next day spending time with Sox’s friend. That afternoon we headed back to Ottawa.

I had to work October 6 and 7 out in Kanata. The work was no big deal. I met with a few of our customers’ employees, put some faces to names, sat in on some conference calls, and did whatever I could. There was supposed to be a laptop there for my use, but someone had taken it back to the Victoria office before I had arrived. Sigh. I got a little bored at times.

I did have a little adventure getting back to our house after my first day of work though. I started for home without having looked at the map. Mistake number 1. While driving I attempted to glance at the map, which was OK since for a long section the rush hour traffic caused some stand stills. At one point I got off the highway to make sure I was still going in the right direction. I needed exit 19A, but got off at the wrong one. Back on the highway I passed 17, then passed 14. Oops, wrong direction (mistake number 2). The next exit was quite a ways fown the highway. Grr. Back on the highway I saw exit 17, then 18, then 19. Crud. I got off at 19 unsure if it meant 19A, or if there was a 19A (mistake number 3). It was the wrong exit, and every which way I turned there was a one way street going the wrong way. Cutting through a parking lot I got going in the right direction, and was able to make it home just fine.

Saturday Sox and I did some shopping and poking around town. Later that evening we went for a walk with some of her family. As a spectacular sunset was emerging, I decided to try and capture it with pictures. I borrowed a car, but being in an unfamiliar city, I had no idea where to head. I ended up at the local university, and snapped a few pictures off. Sunset pics are here.

Sunday the family went for another hike in the Gatineau’s. I chose to part company and spend my time making friends with my tripod. I took pics for 3 hours while the gang hiked. It was quite enjoyable for me, and very relaxing. Unfortunately conditions were less than ideal. Cloudy day, with a wind coming in off the lake. I think I still ended up with some amazing shots, but they could have been so much better. Gatineau hiking pictures are here.

On the way home we stopped at the side of the road in Quebec for poutine. Oh my god. It was soooo good. Actually, the fries alone were pretty damn amazing. Throw in a healthy helping of cheese curds and gravy, and most of us were in heaven. Let’s not forget that we were all just out in the woods for 3 hours too. Definitely a highlight for me. Reflecting on this I can’t help but wonder why I didn’t take a picture of it?

After letting the poutine digest on the drive back, we stopped at the Remic Rapids on the Ottawa river to check out an art installation in the river. Very cool. Someone had built these sculptures out of local rocks, and had balanced them in an intricate fashion.

Monday was our turkey day. The meal was excellent, and was quite a large group of people (13).

Tuesday we were due to fly home. Our flight didn’t leave until later in the evening, so we decided to head to Merrickville to poke around there for a bit. Very quaint little touristy town. Beautiful old buildings, lots of character there. There is a working loch system right beside the road into town we took. We did some shopping, had lunch there, then drove back to Ottawa at a leisurely pace. Wonderful way to spend the last day in the area. Merrickville pictures are here.

The flight home wasn’t nearly as nice as the way out. Sox and I agreed that for some reason the seats just weren’t as comfortable as the way out. How enjoyable is it to sit in an uncomfortable seat for 5+ hours? The food wasn’t very good either. We left Ottawa around 7 pm Ottawa time, and arrived home in Victoria at 11:30 Victoria time (2:30 Ottawa time). This worked out wonderfully. We slept in the next morning, and were easily adjusted to the time difference.

Such an enjoyable trip. We did several touristy things, went on some gorgeous hikes (I got to see the fall colors that aren’t as vibrant as most years), ate some amazing food, visited and got to know some of Sox’s long time friends, and spent time with family. Great vacation.