QV2018: Day 15: Calgary to Houston

7 11 2018

We were up around 3am this morning, for a 4am gathering in the hotel lobby and a 4:15am pickup for Calgary Airport and our flight to Houston. It was COLD — minus 5C or colder — and snowing, but we knew it was going to be 30C or more in Houston, and humid. Most of our group dressed for Calgary weather, gradually discarding jackets and thermals from the airport onwards! (And yes, they had to de-ice the wings)

We flew on WestJet, a Canadian airline I’ve never heard of, let alone flown, before. And I doubt I’ll ever fly them again, at least not on one of their 737-600/-700 series planes! Six of us paid quite a bit extra for ‘Plus Economy’ seats, the only thing WestJet has other than standard Economy. Their website says the seats are larger, have more legroom, meals are served etc. What a crock!

Instead the seats are NARROW — ‘Plus Economy’ seats are effectively just three economy seats with the middle one used for an arm/drinks rest. They are certainly not equivalent to Premium Economy or Business Class (or First Class on US airlines). None of these seats have open arms, which means you can’t ‘spread’ a little past the width of the arms. You’re boxed in. There may be a tad more leg room, but there’s NO more width. Yes, I can blame my bum for being bigger, but when you pay a lot extra for seats that are described on their website as being bigger, you sort of expect slightly wider seats. Those in economy had no shoulder or bum room, and were very up close and personal with their neighbours. Fortunately, for those in our group seated together, we’ve got to know each other quite well the past few weeks…. Plus Economy also boasts a ‘meal’ for flights over 2.5 hours (ours was a 4-hour flight). That meal for breakfast was a boxed turkey wrap (stale; ‘use by’ date tomorrow) or a boxed ham and cheese croissant. With it came some packaged apple slices that had a ‘use by’ date two days previous. This was an international flight from Canada to the US. And yes, I’ve been spoilt by Qantas…

Enough! Let’s get on with the trip!

We arrived early into Houston and went straight to our gate. Once the luggage came through (that took a bit longer than expected), we exited into a wall of heat and humidity, and then onto the blissfully air-conditioned bus. (We’d cleared US immigration/customs in Canada, but that’s another story for another day, so our flight was treated as a domestic one.)

Once at the hotel we exited into the heat again, then into the lovely cool hotel lobby. Some of our rooms were ready straight away, while others had to wait several more hours for theirs to be ready. My first port of call was the International Quilt Festival registration desk to pick up my name badge, program, final room assignments for classes, IQF pin for 2018, etc., then I went with one of the new ladies this tour to show her where the Phoenicia market was.

At 5:15 our group gathered and went over to the convention centre to line up for Winners’ Circle — the ceremony announcing all the award-winning quilts for 2018 — from Honorable Mentions, to 1st, 2nd, and 3rd prize winners in each category, to the final eight quilts that won big prize money, including the Best of Show.

There were too many people crowding to quilts for me to take many photos of them, but photos of all the winning quilts (but not close-ups, unfortunately) are here: http://quilts.com/fqf18/iqawinners/list.html. I’ve put some of the photos of my favourite quilts in this post; the others are here: https://www.flickr.com/photos/rhondamadeit/albums/72157702513543445 — I’ll add to this album as I take more photos of the quilts in the exhibition (which doesn’t open until Wednesday night for delegates, and Thursday for the general public).

 





QV2018: Day 14: Lake Louise to Calgary

6 11 2018

It was a short travel day today, but we broke it up with a 2-hour stop in Canmore, a pretty little town surrounded by the Rockies. It was cold when we left Lake Louise (around -7C), and just as cold at noon in Canmore (-5C), and a similar temperature when we arrived in Calgary around 2:30pm. We had light snow most of the day, with some heavy snow for an hour or so in Calgary after we’d checked in to our hotel.

Our main stop in Canmore was the wonderful Pine Creek quilt store, a 2-storey cavern of wondrous things! It was beautifully laid out and the staff were very pleasant to deal with. I think most of us purchased something from them.

The original intention on getting to Calgary was to do a city tour, but that got scrapped in favour of time to repack, rest, and get an early night as we have to have ourselves and our bags in the lobby by 4am tomorrow, ready to be taken to the airport. On a whim, I decided to find a friend I lost contact with about 10 years ago. With a bit of Google sleuthing (her surname has changed twice since I met her in 1986), I found her. I called her workplace and got through to her. With luck I may be able to catch up with her early this evening before our group dinner — much will depend on how her 4pm meeting goes, and traffic, of course. But at least we now have current details for each other and can catch up in other ways.

The final morning at Lake Louise

The final morning at Lake Louise

Just a little chilly!

Just a little chilly!

Pine Creek quilt store, Canmore, Alberta

Pine Creek quilt store, Canmore, Alberta

Yep, -5C at noon, Canmore, Alberta

Yep, -5C at noon, Canmore, Alberta

Some of the street art in Canmore, with one of the sets of mountains surrounding the town in the background

Some of the street art in Canmore, with one of the sets of mountains surrounding the town in the background





QV2018: Day 13: Lake Louise

5 11 2018

This will be a short post because we had a leisure day today.

After breakfast many of us found our way upstairs to the guest-only lounge overlooking the lobby, and did some hand sewing and played some Scrabble (well, two of us played Scrabble!). Later in the afternoon, most joined Michelle and Helen in the Lakeview room for pre-dinner drinks overlooking the lake, and then we went to the Alpine Social restaurant for dinner. Tonight is packing, ready for our bags to be collected tomorrow morning and for our departure to Calgary.

View from my room first thing this morning, after overnight snow. Lake Louise, Alberta, Canada, 4 November 2018

View from my room first thing this morning, after overnight snow. Lake Louise, Alberta, Canada, 4 November 2018

View out the window from the guest-only lounge, of snow drifting in. Lake Louise, Alberta, Canada, 4 November 2018

View out the window from the guest-only lounge, of snow drifting in. Lake Louise, Alberta, Canada, 4 November 2018

View of Lake Louise from my room

View of Lake Louise from my room

View of Lake Louise from the Lakeview room

View of Lake Louise from the Lakeview room

More photos: https://www.flickr.com/photos/rhondamadeit/albums/72157702998096454





QV2018: Day 12: Banff and Sulphur Mountain

4 11 2018

We got to sleep in this morning! Our bus picked us up around 11am and took us into Banff. We did a short tour of Banff, then were dropped off to do our own thing for the next three hours — lunch (like we needed it, with a late breakfast and an early dinner scheduled!), shopping, wandering art galleries etc. I certainly didn’t want lunch, and I’m not much into shopping or galleries. Besides, my feet hurt and I was a bit over taking my coat, scarf, and gloves off every time you enter a (hot) store and putting them back on when you go outside, so I was all done after 90 mins.

Our next stop was the famous Banff Springs Hotel, then Bow River Falls, where the bus driver told us about the phone booth there. There’s no phone any more because one night the phone rang (so the story goes) and a grizzly bear was passing and didn’t like the sound so ripped the phone out of the booth. There are claw marks in the metal to prove it!

Our final stop of the day was at the Sulphur Mountain Gondola, for the ride to the top of Sulphur Mountain where we had some time to explore, walk on the observation decks (it was quite cold and the wind was bitingly chilly!), and then meet for an early (still daylight) dinner at the Northern Lights restaurant there. The prime rib roast beef at the carvery was amazingly tender and delicious — the chef told me they marinate it for 12 hours, then slow cook it on low heat for another 12 hours. We headed back down the mountain at dusk, onto the bus, and back to Lake Louise for the night. Despite being a cloudy day, with some early morning snow at Lake Louise, it was a fine day without clouds, fog, rain, or snow obscuring our 360 degree views of the Canadian Rockies from Sulphur Mountain — we were very lucky!

After all that fresh (super fresh) air and wind and snow and cold, I think we were all ready to have an early night! Tomorrow is a rest day for us to do as much or as little as we want.

Lake Louise

Lake Louise

Banff Springs Hotel

Banff Springs Hotel

Bow River, Banff -- below the falls

Bow River, Banff — below the falls

Grizzly bear claw marks on the silver metal

Grizzly bear claw marks on the silver metal

Sulphur Mountain -- 4-person gondolas

Sulphur Mountain — 4-person gondolas

Yes, we went right to the top -- an 8-minute ride

Yes, we went right to the top — an 8-minute ride

Looking back to the gondola base station

Looking back to the gondola base station

Banff, Bow River, and the surrounding mountains, from the top of Sulphur Mountain

Banff, Bow River, and the surrounding mountains, from the top of Sulphur Mountain

More photos: https://www.flickr.com/photos/rhondamadeit/albums/72157702998096454





QV2018: Day 11: Kamloops to Lake Louise

3 11 2018

Another long travel day today and in some pretty bleak weather — cold, wet, grey, very low cloud/fog — and that’s even before we left Kamloops! That weather continued most of the day but as we got higher into the Rockies, the rain turned to snow at times, and we had the very occasional patch of blue sky. But mostly it was overcast and grey/white. Despite that, we had glimpses of the grandeur of the Rockies all along the way, particularly after Revelstoke, where we stopped for morning coffee. We had another stop for lunch at Golden, then continued higher and higher until we turned off onto the Icefields Parkway and to Bow Lake.

Even though the photos aren’t very clear (most were taken from a moving bus with windows that progressively got grubbier with the slush and that reflected back), the actual glimpses we saw of the mountains were just stunning. Snow decorated the trees and the land — it was just magical. And surprisingly not that cold at Bow Lake where we got out and where some felt tiny snowflakes landing on their face for the first time.

Finally, we were at Lake Louise, our home for the next few nights. I last saw Lake Louise in the summer (32 years ago!), and even though the sky was grey today and there was some wind on the lake so no reflections and no blue/green colour, it was just as stunning in its early winter cloak.

I even got to toast some marshmallows over an open fire! (and found them to be nowhere near as good as they sounded!)

Bow Lake, Alberta, Canada

Bow Lake, Alberta, Canada

Lake Louise, Alberta, Canada

Lake Louise, Alberta, Canada

More photos: https://www.flickr.com/photos/rhondamadeit/albums/72157702998096454





QV2018: Day 10: Workshop day with Katja in Kamloops

2 11 2018

Today was a late start, with a leisurely breakfast at the hotel then down to Katja’s Quilt Shoppe for a workshop. Our project was English Paper Piecing, and Katja had designed a 13-piece maple leaf (representing the 13 provinces of Canada and the Canadian flag) for us to do. Her method doesn’t involve thread basting the fabric onto the paper pieces — instead we glued the fabric down, then whip-stitched the seams (by hand) to join them. No-one finished, but we all made decent progress before it was time to stop at 4pm. We were glad it was a workshop day today because the weather was cold, grey, and wet. (Kamloops is in high desert country, so they don’t get a lot of rain — who were we to begrudge them of that?)

After the workshop Dan, our bus driver, dropped off some of the group back at the hotel and then took others to the Walmart Supercenter for an hour — I bought some knock-off Skechers-style shoes to replace the ones I’ve been wearing for the past four years that are very worn down, as well as a 4-wheel hard-sided suitcase (my current suitcase is only a 2-wheeler, which means I have to get it on a pivot to move it along).

We met in the lobby at 6pm for dinner at a local Chinese/Japanese restaurant (Oriental Garden). Wow! What a meal! We had HEAPS of dishes for our group of 23, and they were piled high with yummy fresh food. The food was great, and the service was super quick. Cocktails were all around $6 to $8 each (my well-made Long Island Iced Tea was only $6.25!) At the end of the night, we divided the leftovers into about 12 take-away containers, got some plastic knives and forks and napkins to go, boxed everything up, then as we walked back to the hotel, Dan and a couple of the others gave the meals to some of the local homeless people nearby.





QV2018: Day 9: Travel day to Kamloops

1 11 2018

Today was a travel day — Vancouver to Kamloops. It started out cloudy and rainy and stayed that way well past Hope, BC. Eventually the cloud lifted and the rain stopped, and for a brief while we had sunshine. Even with snow all around there were fires near Lac Le Jeune — I’m not sure if they were scheduled burn-offs, or the remnants of the terrible fires that came through the area a couple of months ago.

We arrived in Kamloops mid-afternoon, and had the rest of the day to ourselves. Some went to the nearby laundromat, while I walked a couple of streets almost into the main part of town to look for some lunch, which I found in a kebab shop nearby.

Tonight we have a group dinner at a local restaurant, then tomorrow we have another workshop day.

The first sight of snow through the low clouds

The first sight of snow through the low clouds

Yay! blue sky!

Yay! blue sky!

Smoky skies

Smoky skies

More photos: https://www.flickr.com/photos/rhondamadeit/albums/72157697173199910





QV2018: Day 8: Museum of Anthropology, UBC

31 10 2018

Today was a free day for each of us to do as we wanted. Some went to the Capilano Suspension Bridge and Skywalk, but that’s not my thing, so I decided to tick off a bucket list item that I’ve had for 30+ years ever since I first heard about the Museum of Anthropology at the University of British Columbia.

No-one else was interested in going, so I jumped in a cab (side note — Uber or Lyft aren’t allowed in BC as yet!) and got dropped at the door around 10:30. The admissions person said that there was a free guided tour by a docent at 11am, but I wasn’t sure if I wanted to do it. However, I was in the vicinity when she started the tour and stayed until the end, nearly two hours later (the tour normally goes for just over an hour). It was fascinating, especially the information about the potlatch ceremonies, the many uses of the cedar tree (the ‘tree of life’), the various tribes, and how they used what Europeans labelled ‘totem’ poles, but weren’t actually totems because they weren’t worshipped. She also showed us how to identify which animal was which on a pole or in a drawing. I loved it and I’m so glad I went!

This afternoon I need to pack ready to leave first thing tomorrow morning — I’m going out for drinks and dinner with some friends this evening, so I know I’d better pack before I head out!

Bill Reid's 4-tonne yellow cedar creation story sculpture -- after the great flood, raven finds a clam shell containing children. The sand is from Rose Spit in the Haida islands where this story comes from.

Bill Reid’s 4-tonne yellow cedar creation story sculpture — after the great flood, raven finds a clam shell containing children. The sand is from Rose Spit in the Haida islands where this story comes from.

 

More photos: https://www.flickr.com/photos/rhondamadeit/albums/72157701398444221





QV2018: Day 7: Butchart Gardens and Victoria, BC

31 10 2018

We were up early and grabbed our bagged breakfasts from the hotel ready for our 7:15am bus ride to the Tsawwassen Ferry Terminal. We were on the 9am sailing, and our bus was the first one on Deck 2 with all the trucks and other large vehicles — that meant we were the first off! Some of us braved the cold, wind, and rain on Deck 7 (the open deck, with some sheltered areas fore and aft), while others hunkered down inside on the lounge chairs on the much-more-comfortable Decks 5 and 6. Deck 7 was brisk and bracing — just perfect for waking up! We landed at Schwartz Bay, some 90 mins later, and were soon on our way to Butchart Gardens.

It’s been 30+ years since I was last at Butchart Gardens. I think I was there in summer, with all the summer crowds. Coming in autumn was so much better — not many people, the gardens had been washed with the overnight rain (which continued for the first 15 mins or so after we arrived), and it was in full autumn colour. Just stunning. We had nearly 4 hours there, and I walked for close to 3 hours, before having lunch and visiting the gift shop (I didn’t buy anything). One thing that was an excellent touch was the provision of see-through umbrellas for guests — you could pick up a brolly at the entrance, and there were several stations around where you could drop your brolly if you no longer needed it, or pick up one if you did. No extra charge. (NOTE: Many hotels and tour buses also provide umbrellas for their guests — in a city that gets a lot of rain, like Vancouver, that’s an added bonus.)

After Butchart Gardens, we headed towards Victoria, stopping off at a quilt store along the way. Well, what an eye opener that was! This was a random stop, not reconnoitered earlier by our fearless leaders, so they were as surprised as us as to how long it took the person behind the counter to calculate our purchases. Eventually, Michelle stepped in behind the counter and did the cutting while the shop assistant did the money. But it was all so antiquated in these days of point-of-sale/inventory systems! First, she wrote down on a paper spreadsheet each item purchased (one item per line…) — customer number for the day (I was 16), code number of the item purchased, quantity, and price. Then she entered each of those prices into a till from the 80s that was basically an adding machine with a drawer. Mine was easy — just a couple of fat quarters, But for those who bought yardage, she had to calculate the price, then deduct the 20% discount for the sale price, then add the tax etc. all on a handheld calculator and when that failed, on her phone. Then sometimes the till wouldn’t give her the correct change price, so she got all flustered and had to calculate that by hand. One other strange thing — Michelle had phoned ahead at least an hour before to see if they would take a busload of eager shoppers. But when we got there, the other shop assistant held open the door for us, then left, leaving the one person to manage sales for 20 women. Why she left, I have no idea.

After more than an hour waiting for everyone to get served, we were finally on our way to Victoria. We drove through Beacon Hill, and saw the Mile 0 marker for the Trans Canada Highway, and the Terry Fox statue there. Then down to the waterfront, stopping outside the Empress Hotel (now without her coating of ivy!). Back on the bus and through Chinatown, then back to the ferry terminal for the 7pm sailing back to Tsawwassen and on to the hotel, arriving around 9:30pm.

Capt James Cook

Capt James Cook, Victoria, BC

More photos: https://www.flickr.com/photos/rhondamadeit/sets/72157701398444221





QV2018: Day 6: Vancouver

29 10 2018

This morning we had a tour of Vancouver, hitting the highlights. The day was cool and cloudy, and as it wore on, the skies got more and more ominous, but fortunately the rain started just as we were finishing the tour, so we were able to get out at each place and have a look around.

Some of the places we went were Chinatown (and the tranquil Sun Yat-Sen gardens), Gastown, Stanley Park, and the Vancouver Lookout (at Harbour Center). (See if you can spot the seaplane in one of the photos!)

After we got back, we went our own ways for the rest of the afternoon. I walked across the road to the Vancouver Art Gallery and spent an hour or so there. Unlike other art galleries I’m familiar with, this one has 4 floors, each of which is dedicated to a special exhibition — there are no general works from the collection on display. The collection that amazed me the most was Guo Pei’s couture collection — these are totally unwearable garments, but have the most amazing embroidery, exotic fabrics, and sheer artistry embodied in them. And in one of the other collections was a 10-print selection of Andy Warhol’s Marilyn Monroe series.

Tonight we have another group dinner, and tomorrow we’re up bright and early for the ferry to Victoria on Vancouver Island.

More photos: https://www.flickr.com/photos/rhondamadeit/albums/72157701398444221

Update: Dinner at Boulevard

What a wonderful meal! Healthy ingredients and portions and sized perfectly so that we didn’t feel stuffed. I had the beets and burrata for appetiser, lingcod for my main, and fromage blanc for dessert. Plus two cocktails — el diablo and gerard. The el diablo had a strange looking piece of fruit on top — in fact it was a dried lime!

Pics: