Algonquin Park

Friday 5: North American Honeymoon Destinations for Nature-Lovers

It's time for another instalment of the Honeymoon Series! Today I've put together 5 North American destinations for the nature-lovers out there. Each trip offers uniquely beautiful landscapes, outdoor adventure, and some romantic luxury. Plus, they're not just for honeymoons!

Algonquin Park, Ontario, Canada

A no-brainer for our short-list since we got engaged in Algonquin Park. It would be a great destination for any couple that really wants to get away from it all. For the truly adventurous, there are remote ranger cabins throughout the park that offer incredible opportunities for hiking and seeing wildlife. Some of the cabins are even waterfront, so it's like having your own private beach. But they don’t have running water or electricity and most of them need to be reached by foot and canoe.

If that sounds nuts, Bartlett Lodge is a beautiful lodge located on Cache Lake (video link for email subscribers). It offers upscale camping (I refuse to call it galloping), cottage rentals, and rooms in the lodge. Guests can be on the meal plan and have breakfast and five-course dinner at the lodge. They focus on local goods and fish from the lake. A short video about dining at Bartlett Lodge here.

Kauai, Hawaii

Ah, Hawaii! A perennial favorite for honeymooners. My parents honeymooned here and have talked about how beautiful it was for years and years. Naturally, it was on of the first destinations we talked about for our own honeymoon. We looked into Kauai because it seemed to offer a nice balance between beautiful beaches and dramatic landscapes from the cliffs of the Kalalau Trail on the Napali Coast to the lush Waimea Canyon. We never found a rental we loved, but if I could splurge we’d probably stay at Koa Kea Hotel and Resort on Poipu Beach or the Grand Hyatt Kauai Resort and Spa

"Oxbow Bend outlook in the Grand Teton National Park" by I, Michael Gäbler. Licensed under CC BY 3.0 via  Wikimedia Commons 

"Oxbow Bend outlook in the Grand Teton National Park" by I, Michael Gäbler. Licensed under CC BY 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons 

Grand Teton National Park and Yellowstone National Park, Wyoming

Rustic luxury and some of them most breathtaking landscapes in America. This trip was at the top of my list for a little while. I thought it would be wonderful to stay at the Rustic Inn in Jackson so we could visit Grand Teton National Park.

"Yellowstone River in Hayden Valley" by Ed Austin/Herb Jones - http://www.nps.gov/archive/yell/slidefile/water/creeksstreamsrivers/yellrdbelowlake/Images/13240.jpg. Licensed under Public Domain via  Wikimedia Commons  

"Yellowstone River in Hayden Valley" by Ed Austin/Herb Jones - http://www.nps.gov/archive/yell/slidefile/water/creeksstreamsrivers/yellrdbelowlake/Images/13240.jpg. Licensed under Public Domain via Wikimedia Commons 

Then, we would take a road trip to Yellowstone and stay at Old Faithful Inn or one of the other summer lodges. I still think this would be a fantastic honeymoon for the right couple! Actually, I just think this would be a fantastic trip, period. 

"Lake Louise 17092005" by Gorgo - Photo taken by author. Licensed under Public Domain via  Wikimedia Commons  

"Lake Louise 17092005" by Gorgo - Photo taken by author. Licensed under Public Domain via Wikimedia Commons 

Lake Louise and Banff, Alberta, Canada

I’ve seen iconic pictures of the Fairmont Chateau Lake Louise resort so many times that, frankly, I’m just dying to go there at this point. It’s located in Banff National Park on the stunningly pretty Lake Louise surrounded by the Canadian Rockies. Alongside a beautiful spa and restaurant, they offer Mountain Adventure Programs during which naturalists and historians take guests on half-day hikes, full-day hikes, and guided canoe trips. I’d be all over a guided hike one day and a canoe trip the next. Afterwards, a trip to the spa for massages might be in order.

"Banff Avenue - Cascade Mountain". Licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0 via  Wikimedia Commons  

"Banff Avenue - Cascade Mountain". Licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons 

There are plenty of other activities and sites outside of the resort from hiking to cycling to whitewater rafting. For a slower pace, there’s always Banff Upper Hot Springs, the Banff Gondola for amazing views of the mountain ranges, and the town of Banff for shopping and eating. If you’re really craving the city, Calgary is about a 2 hour drive, which also makes it easy to get to a major airport. 

Santa Fe, New Mexico

There’s a reason why New Mexico is called the Land of Enchantment. There’s nowhere quite like it from food to landscape. It has beautiful weather—it’s a dry heat!—and since I’m from New Mexico, I’ve been wanting to take S there since we started dating. The Four Seasons Resort Rancho Encantado seemed like a perfect spot. It’s nestled at the foot of the Sangre de Christo mountains on 57 acres next to the Santa Fe National Forest, but it’s also only 10 minutes from Santa Fe. 

"Atop Tesuque Peak Looking Towards Santa Fe Lake (7271534354)" by Thomas Shahan - Atop Tesuque Peak Looking Towards Santa Fe LakeUploaded by Jacopo Werther. Licensed under CC BY 2.0 via  Wikimedia Commons  

"Atop Tesuque Peak Looking Towards Santa Fe Lake (7271534354)" by Thomas Shahan - Atop Tesuque Peak Looking Towards Santa Fe LakeUploaded by Jacopo Werther. Licensed under CC BY 2.0 via Wikimedia Commons 

Want adventure? You could fill your days with hiking, exploring ruins, or whitewater rafting in the forest.

And culture? How about decadent meals, an evening at the Santa Fe Opera House, shopping at the Flea, or the Santa Fe Indian Market (in August), or Spanish Market (in July)? (Must-watch video link for email subscribers)


That's it for this week! Hope you have a wonderful weekend!

For the rest of the Honeymoon Planning series click here.

Fall in Algonquin Park

We spent most of the day in Algonquin Park last Friday. Even though our favorite little trail, Whiskey Rapids, was flooded and it was cold and grey, it ended up being a great day. There was something about the moody weather, the chill in the air, and the smell of the wet, damp leaves that made the trails feel a little magical. Not to mention the glorious absence of bugs!

Our original plan was to do a 6 hour hike of Mizzy Lake, one of the longer interpretive trails. Since my leg isn't 100%, we decided to make things a little easier and just hiked a little bit of Mizzy Lake before checking out some of the short, easy trails we haven't seen yet.

What's great about Mizzy Lake is that it's supposed to be one of the best trails for seeing wildlife. We still haven't seen anything overly exciting, but we are already planning another trip next year to finally complete the whole loop.

mizzylakefalls
mizzylakestream
mizzylakewoodpecker

We were pretty happy with our woodpecker sighting, until we walked back to the car. The hiker parked next to us was starry-eyed and asked us if we had seen the big, beautiful bear, too. You could tell he was still awestruck and starry-eyed. I'm still not sure if I'm envious of him or happy we didn't see any bears. I kind of like to view things that can eat me from extremely safe distance, like on TV.

After Mizzy Lake, we went to Two Rivers Trail. It's only 2.1 km, but it has fantastic view of the forest from a cliff. 

Most of the fall color is gone, but some beautiful surprises appeared around a corner every so often.

Most of the fall color is gone, but some beautiful surprises appeared around a corner every so often.

two rivers cliff.jpg

The view was beautiful. I imagine the hills look like they are on fire when the leaf colors peak. 

two rivers cliff algonquin.png

We met a little chipmunk who was desperately (adorably) trying to stuff a triangular cracker into his cheeks. He wasn't successful, but he finally ran off with it in his mouth and stored it. Can't pass up a sweet find like that!

two rivers chipmunk.png

After our warm, fuzzy encounter with the chipmunk, we ran into a very angry red squirrel. Which is kind of like saying, "I woke up today and the earth was round and the grass was green and there were 24 hours in a day." If you've never met a red squirrel before, you learn quickly that they are tiny territorial jerks. This one kept following me around a tree cackling and spitting and hissing. I'm 85% sure he would have jumped on my head if he could have. 

"Get off my lawn!" says the red squirrel

"Get off my lawn!" says the red squirrel

After we took a bunch of picture of Mr. Grumps and laughed at him, we started off towards the end of the trail. All of a sudden, another chipmunk came running out of the underbrush and up to my feet.

"I heard you had delicious, homemade granola bars! Don't be stingy, I read the blog. . .They've got to be around here somewhere."

"I heard you had delicious, homemade granola bars! Don't be stingy, I read the blog. . .They've got to be around here somewhere."

He ended up escorted us out of the trail. He would come up to our feet, run a few feet ahead of us, and then run back. It was fun at first, until we realized he was just looking for food. 

Our final trail for the day was Peck Lake. It's a quick 1.9 km trail that goes around Peck Lake. There was a busload of tourists walking it with us, so it wasn't as relaxing. You could hear lots of shouting and talking from across the lake, so we knew we wouldn't be seeing any wildlife whatsoever. But the views were pretty and the lake looked so peaceful. 

peck lake.png

I can't wait until next year already. There are so many trails and things that we still want to do, including camping. That's the wonderful thing about Algonquin Park, it's huge and there's so much to do for so many different types of people. I was leafing through the park information guide and found out that you can even stay in old ranger cabins. Some of them take a day or two to get to and some are accessible by car. You better believe I've already scouted out a couple to try!


Resources

If you are ever in the area or are interested in taking a trip to Algonquin Park, check out their website for some basic information. The Friends of Algonquin Park hand Tour du Park are other fantastic resources that go into more detail about park conditions and how to plan a trip. 

Friday 10: Canadian Thanksgiving!

It's Canadian Thanksgiving on Monday, so I'm writing this on Thursday and getting ready for a drive up to Muskoka. After all of my years in Canada, having Thanksgiving on a Monday still feels odd to me, but I love being able to celebrate it twice a year. I'm really looking forward to visiting everyone, getting out into the country, and relaxing. 

We were hoping to go on a long hike through Algonquin Park before the winter comes, but I injured my calf and should be resting it. I'm not very happy about it. I tried to convince S that I was feeling good enough to do a little hike yesterday morning. Then my leg swelled again at night after some light walking. Whoops! We will still drive up to see the fall colors, but I may have to be tied down in the car. 

Algonquin Park, Whiskey Rapids Trail, Summer 2012

Algonquin Park, Whiskey Rapids Trail, Summer 2012

I'll be back on Tuesday, hopefully with a full belly and some great photos! In the meantime, I put together a collection Thanksgiving, travel and food links for the week.  

Thanksgiving

#1 Some fast facts about Canadian Thanksgiving. While the origins of Thanksgiving are a little murky and sometimes debated, Martin Frobisher, an English explorer, is often suggested as the originator. After landing in Newfoundland in 1578, he held a feast to give thanks their safe passage across the Atlantic. This was 42 years before the Pilgrim and Wampanoag Thanksgiving in 1621 in Massachusetts. 

#2 & 3 So what did they eat, anyway? The First Nations origins of Thanksgiving foods. And look at what the Pilgrims/Wampanoag might have eaten for their harvest feast. Spoiler: No pie! The horror!   

Travel

#4 Giving Trippy a look after hearing about it on Go Fork Yourself. It's a travel site that allows users to ask questions about places and "destination experts" answer them. The idea is that the best answers get voted up and rise to the top. 

#5 Following the trail of N. Howard (Jack) Thorp through New Mexico. (via NYT Travel)

Thorp’s New Mexico is a place of overlapping cultures and harsh beauty, of cowboys and their whooping, hollering animal calls. It captures the mesquite and cat-claw thickets of tornillo bushes and encounters with the “wild and wooly” cow men of Roswell and Carlsbad.

It sounded like my kind of place.

Food

#6 I loved this Foodie Originals video of Joseph Johnson, a sous chef at Michelin-Starred Mélisse in Santa Monica. The passion and dedication it takes to work in the food world always  (via Eater). 

# 7 This Pumpkin Chili has become a staple in our house. It's healthy, filling, and so easy to make. I usually omit some of the sugar and add extra chili powder and cayenne for some heat. Don't let the pumpkin throw you off, it's very mild!

# 8, 9 & 10 Lastly, I'm heading off to make some portable snacks for the weekend: Salt and Vinegar Roasted Chickpeas (a great alternative to chips), Pumpkin Oatmeal Anytime Squares, and, maybe some Healthy 5-Ingredient No-Bake Granola Bars (via Oh She Glows and Minimalist Baker)


That's it for this week! I hope you have a lovely weekend and, if you're Canadian, you eat lots, spend time with loved ones, and celebrate the things you are thankful for. Bring on the turkey!