Canadian Food

After a week in Alaska, we’re back in Canada on our way home to Minnesota. So of course, it’s time for some Canadian food. Always good to eat local food when traveling, right?

I don’t know about you, but when I think of Canadian food, the first thing that comes to mind is is doughnuts. And lest you think the reason for that is because I am ALWAYS thinking of doughnuts, think again. According to the CBC, Canada has more doughnut shops per capita than anyplace in the world:

There are more doughnut shops per capita in Canada than anywhere else on the planet. Canadians eat more doughnuts than any other country’s citizens. Although the doughnut is often seen as an American icon, it has become Canada’s unofficial national snack. The popularity of the deep fried treats has to do with Canada’s love affair with coffee, reports CBC’s Beth Harrington. Coffee and doughnuts go hand in hand. And since coffee is Canada’s number one beverage, its partner in crime, the humble doughnut, ranks up there in popularity.  

On our first morning in Canada a couple of weeks ago, in Moose Jaw, SK, we noticed a long line of cars in the drive through of a fast food joint called Tim Horton’s. “Hmmm,” we wondered….”just what kind of a joint is Tim Horton’s to attract such a crowd so early in the morning?”


By the time we got to Medicine Hat, AB, our curiosity got the better of us and we pulled into a Tim Horton’s for a break in the drive. Sure enough, it’s a doughnut shop. They also serve soups, sandwiches, and some mean breakfast sandwiches. We grabbed a few doughnuts and got hooked. For the next few days of our drive through Canada, the first thing we did when we pulled into a town was to find the Tim Horton’s.

We’re back in Dawson Creek, BC now, ensconced in a motel across the street from the first Tim Horton’s we’ve seen since leaving Whitehorse, YK. Guess where we’re going for breakfast tomorrow.

Now, I wonder what it would take to get a Tim Horton’s to open in Minnesota. Probably nothing, since Krispy Kreme couldn’t even make it there. For some strange reason, Minnesotans are not big doughnut eaters.

For more on Canadian food, check out this great article (and slideshow) on the 50 “Most Canadian foods” in The Huffington Post, which includes such delicacies as maple syrup, french fries with gravy (!), bacon, and cod tongue.

Ok Canadian readers….this is your chance. What would be on your list of quintessential Canadian foods? Leave a comment with your answer.


Alaska Cruising

As far as I can tell, there are two kinds of people in Juneau. Those who love the cruise ships and those who hate them. Every day during the cruising season (May to September), anywhere from 2 to 5 giant cruise ships dock in downtown Juneau disgorging thousands of waddling tourists, all wearing sweatshirts and fanny packs. I say waddling because I’ve been on one of those ships and know how much food is consumed.

My niece told me of riding the bus to work on the final day of cruising season last year and when the bus driver announced “there goes the last cruise ship of the season, half the people on the bus cheered and the other half sat in stony silence. Those cheering were thrilled that they could now have their city back without the hoards, while the glum ones felt like their last link to the outside world was being severed.

As for me, I enjoyed watching the ships come and go from my niece’s place across the channel from the docks and on our various excursions.


Cruising in Tracy Arm Fjord



Cruising in Tracy Arm Fjord


At the dock in Juneau


A busy evening in Juneau harbor

If you have the time and resources to take an Alaska cruise, I highly recommend it. And if you’re not the cruising type, then consider a trip on the Alaska Marine Highway. The price is of course lower, but the views are the same! We took 4 ferry trips, and I’m ready to spend the rest of the summer on board one of those ferries.

Quick update: We are on our way back to Minnesota. Gracie (mom) flew back on Wednesday, so it’s just my sister and me. Hoping to be back by The Fourth!

A Tale of Two Shrines

Earlier this week, we took a drive north out of Juneau, on the only road in the area (which only goes 40+ miles). Along the way stopped at the Shrine of St. Therese, a Catholic retreat center about 15 miles out of town.




As we were admiring the gorgeous chapel set in a grove of trees on the tip of a penninsula, I had a vague sense of familiarity. A shrine to St. Therese of Lisieux…where had I seen that before?

Then I remembered that last fall, on one of my church-bell-hunting excursions in Beijing, I had stumbled across a small Catholic church in the southeast section of old Beijing that is also a shrine to St. Therese of Lisieux.




Today the church is simply referred to as the NanGangzi Catholic Church, NanGangzi being the name of the old Beijing neighborhood it is in. We were able to get into the steeple to see the bells, but the priest we met told us that they were not original.

So, who was St. Therese? Here’s what the Catholic Encylopedia “New Advent” says about her:

Carmelite of Lisieux, better known as the Little Flower of Jesus, born at Alençon, France, 2 January, 1873; died at Lisieux 30 September, 1897.


She was the ninth child of saintly parents, Louis and Zélie Martin, both of whom had wished to consecrate their lives to God in the cloister. The vocation denied them was given to their children, five of whom became religious, one to the Visitation Order and four in the Carmelite Convent of Lisieux. Brought up in an atmosphere of faith where every virtue and aspiration were carefully nurtured and developed, her vocation manifested itself when she was still only a child. Educated by the Benedictines, when she was fifteen she applied for permission to enter the Carmelite Convent, and being refused by the superior, went to Rome with her father, as eager to give her to God as she was to give herself, to seek the consent of the Holy Father, Leo XIII, then celebrating his jubilee. He preferred to leave the decision in the hands of the superior, who finally consented and on 9 April, 1888, at the unusual age of fifteen, Thérèse Martin entered the convent of Lisieux where two of her sisters had preceded her.


The account of the eleven years of her religious life, marked by signal graces and constant growth in holiness, is given by Soeur Thérèse in her autobiography, written in obedience to her superior and published two years after her death. In 1901 it was translated into English, and in 1912 another translation, the first complete edition of the life of the Servant of God, containing the autobiography, “Letters and Spiritual Counsels”, was published. Its success was immediate and it has passed into many editions, spreading far and wide the devotion to this “little” saint of simplicity, and abandonment in God’s service, of the perfect accomplishment of small duties.


The fame of her sanctity and the many miracles performed through her intercession caused the introduction of her cause of canonization only seventeen years after her death, 10 Jun, 1914.

Who knew that Juneau and Beijing have something in common and that it is shrine to St. Therese of Lisieux?

If you’re interested in reading more about St. Therese, her autobiography is titled “Story of A Soul: The Autobiography of St. Therese of Lisieux.”


Land of the Midnight Sun

We are not far enough north to actually see the sun at midnight, but spending the past week in northern British Columbia, the Yukon Territory, and Southeast Alaska in late June means that we have not actually witnessed any nighttime since early last week. The sun does go down, but we have gone to bed before it gets dark (or semi-dark) and gotten up long after the sun has come up.

Here are a few pictures of what late night in The Yukon Territory and Alaska looks like:

Whitehorse, YT round about midnight

Whitehorse, YT round about midnight


930pm on the ferry

930pm on the ferry


1130pm in Juneau

1130pm in Juneau


Midnight in Juneau

Midnight in Juneau

We have had fantastic weather as well, since we timed our arrival to coincide with a heat wave that is “baking” Alaska.

We Made It!

On Friday afternoon, after driving 2800 miles in 7 days, we arrived in Skagway, in Southeast Alaska.

As we drove through the town teeming with tourists from the two cruise ships docked in the harbor, we wanted to shout at everyone, “WE DID IT! WE DROVE HERE!!!” But, surmising that no one would be interested in that fact, we kept the giddiness to ourselves.



But Skagway wasn’t really our destination; Juneau was. So, after diving 60-70 miles an hour for a week, we parked the car on the lower deck of the ferry settled in for a leisurely 6 hour ride to Juneau, where my niece and her husband were waiting for us at the dock. We followed them the last 25 minute drive to their home on Douglas Island, pulling into their driveway at 10:30PM, just in time to catch a sunset pic from their deck.






Saturday morning, we were back on another ferry bound for Sitka. And today we rode the ferry back to Juneau, where we will be for the rest of the week.


Wrecker Ahead

We had just spotted a sign telling us that it was 21km to Muncho Lake, our designated picnic lunch destination, when we spotted the dreaded orange signs. As we came to a halt behind a camper, we noticed that the orange sign said “wrecker ahead.”

Since we were at a place where the road curved, we could see the wrecker (the size of a small semi) up ahead, perpendicular to the highway. Looking to our right we saw that there was a 40 foot drop off the side of the highway. This didn’t look good at all.

It was clear that we were going to be there for awhile, so my sister and I decided to get out and see what was going on. This is what we saw:

The man in the white shirt was a passenger in the truck when it went off the road. He came over to where we were standing and told us his son had been driving and had fallen asleep. They had gone off the road down into the ravine, but miraculously the truck had not rolled. Neither of them were even injured.

We watched for 45 minutes as the tow truck driver got is rig into position to pull the truck back onto the highway. Meanwhile our mom was back at the car making friends with the drivers around her. It’s kind of a community out here.

To give you an idea of the remoteness of this spot, the sign on the tow truck indicated it was from a towing company in Fort Nelson, which was 100 miles behind us. The next town was 200 miles ahead of us. That means this crash had probably happened hours before we arrived on the scene. And how they had gotten ahold of the towing company we’ll never know.


Once he got the pickup out of the ravine, the driver got both vehicles to the side so that the twenty or so of us waiting could be on our way. We all gave him a big thumbs up as we drove by.

We  said a prayer of thanks for safe driving so far, and for continued safety for the remainder of the journey.

A Ribbon of Highway

The drive from Dawson Creek to Fort Nelson goes through 300 miles of forest. We have a new appreciation for the term “ribbon of highway.”


Dawson Creek to Ft. Nelson

Dawson Creek to Ft. Nelson

Dawson Creek to Ft. Nelson

Dawson Creek to Ft. Nelson

At one point along that ribbon of highway, we hit the 2000 mile mark! We ate chocolate to celebrate.


2000 Miles!

I also found out that the monument marking “Mile Zero” that stands in the center of town is not actually the start of the highway; that’s a block away, under this sign. Go figure.


And away we go!


Mile Zero

After driving 1600 miles over 4 days, we have finally reached the BEGINNING of the Alaska-Canada Highway (ALCAN) in Dawson Creek, BC.

Mile Zero of the AlCan Highway in Dawson Creek, BC

Mile Zero of the AlCan Highway in Dawson Creek, BC

Big Red At Mile Zero

Big Red At Mile Zero

The highway heads northwest from Milepost Zero, through British Columbia, the Yukon Territory, and into Alaska — ending in Fairbanks at Milepost 1600. This means that since we left St. Paul on Friday, we have now driven halfway to Fairbanks! But we’re headed to Skagway, in SE Alaska, so only have 1000 miles to go!

In preparation for our journey up the highway, we watched an old Discovery video on YouTube called “Building the Alaska Highway.” Wow! Here’s Part 1 of the 6-part series.