California and Portland 2023

Portland, OR

    Kathy and I finally broke loose from the grip of Covid. We put together a west coast trip that included a stop in Portland to visit Kathy's sister, Susie, and family, a couple of weeks in Carmel, and a week in the wine country near Sanoma.  We enjoyed time with our son Brian and his sweetie Kristin, including a celebration of Brian's birthday and Mother's Day.  
    Susie treated us to a trip to the Japanese Gardens.  If you have never been to this place, add it to your bucket list.  It is huge and has some of the most elegant and colorful gardens we have ever seen.  The gardens include several Japanese homes that are very interesting.  We also enjoyed a stop at the teahouse.

Preparing the tea.



    The gardens are one of my favorite places to photograph and I had a blast!
    We also enjoyed a family reunion with Susie, her three kids, and her grandkids.  It has been over three years since we have seen them and they have all grown.  Some of the kids are approaching graduation from high school and driving (wow, time flies)!
    I enjoyed talking with everyone and in particular, I had a great time roasting coffee with Susie's son Adam.  His dad, Dave, bought a small coffee roaster several years before he passed away and taught Adam the ins and outs of roasting good coffee.  Adam roasted several pounds of coffee that we took home with us and that I use in my espresso machine.  This is the second time we have roasted together and I look forward to doing it again on our next visit.

Carmel, CA

    We spent two weeks in Carmel and finally got to use the gift certificate the kids gave us for Christmas over three years ago.  In March 2020, we had reservations at Passionfish in Pacific Grove for the night before we 'high-tailed" it out of California as Covid lockdowns were hitting.  We canceled that reservation and thought we would never get to use the certificate.  Well, Passionfish is still in business and we were able to enjoy a great meal on this trip thanks to the kid's gift.
    On the weekend in the middle of the two weeks, Brian and Kristin joined us for several fine meals and a whale watch trip in Monterey Bay.  We saw many Humpback whales and some porpoises.   It was a great time, the weather was good and the whales were active, so we saw them breach and splash on several occasions.  Check out the images in the link at the end of this blog for the Carmel photos, including a cool sequence of three shots as one of the whales breached and splashed.

Humpback Whales

Monterey Bay in Pacific Grove, CA

    During the two weeks, Kathy and I did two wine tastings in the Carmel Valley and had dinner at several of our favorite places.  We always try to have dinner at Mission Ranch (Clint Eastwood's place).  Clint wasn't there, but the meal was enjoyable.  One of the downers on this trip was Kath's failed attempts to find her favorite crab cakes.  Our go-to spot in Monterey, at the municipal pier 2 Sandbar Grill, no longer serves them and the Mission Ranch Restuarant (Mission Ranch) had mediocre cakes.  We never found good crab cakes!  The price has gotten costly due to the shortages of crabs, plus less crab meat is being used in the recipes. 

Crab cakes off the menu

Crab cakes at Mission Ranch


Healdsburg, CA

    Our last week in California was spent in the small town of Healdsburg.  It is located north of Sonoma, CA, and is part of the northern California wine country.  Healdsburg is a great little town with some excellent places to eat and a couple of fun coffee and breakfast places.  In particular, we liked Costeaux French Bakery for breakfast (Costeaux), Black Oak Coffee Roasters (Black Oak Coffee) for a morning espresso, and our favorite dinner was at the Matheson (Matheson).  Healdsburg has many wineries in the area; however, we didn't try any this time.  We did drive up to the Carneros area and enjoyed a wine tasting at Artesa, which was free because we belong to their wine club.  It was a pleasant afternoon and the wine, as always, was excellent.  Wine tasting has changed in California.  You need reservations for the wine tasting and the cost is generally in the $40 to $60 range.  We remember the good old days when you walked in and the tasting was often free, but never more than $5-$10.

Latte Art at Black Oak Coffee

Artesa Winery

We took a side trip to see the home of author Jack London, near Glen Ellen, CA.  As a kid, I loved Jack London novels.  He had an exciting life with a tragic end.  He died from mercury, an element in the drugs he had taken to mitigate tooth pain.  His wife Charmain, was also a novelist and lived a long life.  Their home and ranch is now a state park well worth the visit (Jack London Park).

Jack London gravesite

    On the way back to the kid's house we took a detour to the Muir Woods National Monument just north of San Francisco.  I love the giant redwoods and Muir Woods is a perfect place to enjoy them.

Redwood trees in Muir Woods

       Our last weekend was spent with the kids.  This was one of the only years since Brian left home that we were with the kids for both Mother's Day and Brian's birthday.  The trip concluded with a terrific tapas meal at Teleferic Barcelona in Palo Alto (Teleferic Barcelona).  We were joined by Matt Tsang, Brian and Kristin's college friend and our Minnesota "son".  We had lots of fun and many laughs, plus the best tapas we have ever had!

    As always, I put all the photos from the trip in Google Photos.  I made three albums that include additional images with the ones above.  Please click on the links and enjoy.  I would appreciate your thoughts, question, or comments.  Until next time, "happy trails".


Alberta 2022 - Jasper

Peyto Lake

On the drive up to Jasper, we made several stops to enjoy and photograph the scenery.  Our first stop was at Peyto Lake, a glacial lake that has an amazing green color.  We hiked into the overlook where the attached photos were taken.  As Kathy says, it was a "huffy, puffy" hike. It was steep and long, but well worth the effort.

Peyto Lake

Two Happy Campers.


Sunwapta Falls

Our next stop was Sunwapta Falls.  This area of Canada has many fantastic waterfalls and Sumwata is one of the best.  We had some nice clouds in a vivid blue sky and mountains in the background, what's not to like?

Sunwapta Falls.

A lone pine guards the falls.

Athabasca Falls

We visited two falls on this trip, the second one was Athabasca Falls.  It is a little bit wider than Sunwapta but equally as nice.  The hike we took brought us around the falls, so I was able to photograph both sides.  I like some of the slow shutter speed images that create a nice flow to the water. 

Athabasca Falls.

Shadows and flowing water.

Maligne Lake

Our drive up to Jasper occurred on Sunday and included the stops above.  On Monday, we enjoyed a boat tour of Maligne Lake.  Brian and Kristin did a great job of scheduling at least one major activity a day, usually involving a hike and local scenery.   This day's adventure was not a hike, but still lots of fun.  It was nice to have a day that was relaxed and included some downtime.

Maligne Lake.

The boat dock.

Maligne Canyon

Our final full day in Jasper included a drive to Maligne Canyon.   The canyon was beautiful and a very nice hike.   It was a hot day and the crowds were large, but we loved it.  

The Maligne Canyou.

Kathy gets photobombed!

The Fairmont Jasper Park Lodge

We stayed at the lodge in Jasper which was a switch from Banff and Lake Louise.  The units were more like rustic cabins dotted around the south side of the lake.  Very cozy and comfortable and a nice relaxed place to stay.  The lodge was located about ten miles outside Jasper, so we were able to eat at several interesting local restaurants as well as the lodge's dining areas.  In Jasper, we eat at the Fiddle River and Evil Dave's Grill.  Both were excellent and I just love the names.

The Fairmont Jasper Park Lodge.

A great antique car.

Relaxing seating on the edge of the lake.

Brian and Kristin at dinner.


The Columbia Icefield

On our last day, we drove down to Lake Louise to spend our last night in Alberta.  On the way, we stopped at the Columbia Icefield for a glacial experience.  It was chilly and cool.  We took a large vehicle up to the ice field and hiked around for a bit.  It was a bit dicey walking on the ice without cleats, but we survived without any falls.  The people-watching was great.   We also visited the skywalk overlook for a heart-thumping experience.  It is built out of the side of the mountain and has clear glass walkways so you can look down into the canyon (similar to the one in the Grand Canyon, but probably not as exciting).  

Columbia Icefield vehicle.

Columbia Glacier.

Great people watching.

The skywalk.

The view below.


This trip was one of the best we have taken.  This is in large part due to sharing it with Brian and Kristin and it was our first major outing since Covid hit.  I would love to revisit this area in the fall and possibly the winter.  We loved the scenery, the Canadian people, and the hiking.  Thanks, kids for a great trip!!

As always, I have more pictures of the Jasper portion of the trip out on Google Photos.  Here is a link to the images: Jasper Google Photos

Alberta 2022 - Lake Louise

 Johnston Canyon

One of our daily hikes near Lake Louise was the Johnston Canyon trail.  This trail is near Lake Louise but is an easy drive from Banff, which is how we accessed the hike.  The scenery was over the top, as were the crowds!  The hike was flat and easy and well worth the effort.   The falls have a nice view through the tunnel (cave) at the end of the trail; the crowd was too large so we passed on that view.

The line for the tunnel view.


Moraine Lake

This lake was probably the most beautiful lake we visited; however, they were all fantastic.  The hike to the viewpoint was a bit challenging, so Kathy passed on it.  She was still able to do some hiking and found her own views.   

The kids dressed for the weather!

A proud dad and his son.

Lake Louise

We stayed one night at the Fairmont - Lake Louise.  It is a beautiful spot.  We enjoyed the area after the crowds left in the evening.  All the places we visited had fantastic flowers and Lake Louise was no exception.

The view from our room.

The lake in the evening.  We loved the flowers.

Nice light that evening.

As usual, I have posted more images on Google Photos at this link:

Lake Louise Photos

If you missed my first blog, you can find it at:

Alberta 2022 - Banff

Banff Photos

I'll be posting one more blog in this series that will cover our stay in Jasper.  It should be out in the next two weeks.  Thanks for reading the blog and viewing the images, I appreciate it.

Mike (aka Don) Nadreau

Alberta 2022 - Banff

Well folks, we finally jumped back on the horse and returned to international travel.  In early August we flew to Calgary, Canada for a trip to Banff, Lake Louise, and Jasper in Alberta Canada.  We were joined by our son and his wife (Brian and Kristin) who made the arrangements and drove us old folks around the parks.  Travel, with Covid still active, is interesting.  Although not required to test we were subject to random testing in Calgary if selected.  If we had been selected and tested positive, we would have been forced to quarantine for 10 days in Canada - that would have been a fun trip!  Fortunately, none of us were selected to test so we were good to go.  Everyone did fine but me.  I tested positive for Covid two days after we returned.  I quarantined at home for 10 days and am now back to normal.  The Dr. gave me Paxlovid and as a result, my symptoms were mild (coughing and lack of energy).  Kathy managed to avoid getting infected which is a blessing.

The first part of our journey was in Banff national park.  We stayed at the Fairmont in Banff, the nicest hotel we have ever stayed at.  Costs to travel at this point are astronomical, both air and hotels, plus the food is high as well.  If you haven't traveled lately, you're in for a shock.  

We spent four nights in Banff and started our vacation with a gondola ride to the top of  Sulfur Mountain.  The views of Banff and the surrounding area are spectacular.  As an alternative to the Gondola ride, you can hike up and back or one way if you so choose.  

The Sulfur Mountain Gondola

Banff, Alberta Canada

Kathy and I got photo-bombed by Kristin!

We spent a day driving over to Yoho National Park in British Columbia.  On the way, we stopped at the overlook for the "spiral tunnels".  This is an engineering marvel that converted a dangerous 4.5 % grade in Kicking Horse pass to a 2.2% grade via the use of two spiral tunnels.  If you are interested, here is a link to more information on the tunnels: Spiral Tunnels - Canada.  You can also Google spiral tunnels in Canada for more pictures and sites.

Spiral Tunnels graphic

In Yoho National Park we hiked to Takkakaw Falls, an easy hike with some incredible views.  

Takkakaw Falls

From our hotel in Banff, we took a nice hike down to the Bow Falls on the Bow River.  

The Bow River

The Bow River falls

Banff was fun. We had a great room at the Fairmont with nice views of the mountains and the Bow River.  We had some great meals, including a Swiss dinner (including fondue) at the Waldhaus restaurant which is associated with the Fairmont hotel.

Swiss dining at the Waldhaus

I have set up a photo album on Google Photos at this link: Alberta - Banff.  The album contains about 30 images, including photos of the hotel and the views from our room - you don't want to miss them.

The above link takes you to the album.  Click on the first image which will enlarge on your screen.  There are forward and backward arrows to navigate through the album.  If you wish to see information about the image, click on the "I" circle at the top right and the info. bar will open on the right next to each image.  If you want to remove the info bar, click the x at the top left of the bar.  

I'm working on two more blogs for this trip.  One about Lake Louise and another about Jasper National Park.  They should be out in the next couple of weeks.