Not exactly a beach

Greetings from cold and snowy Edmonton! I know, I know, not everyone’s idea of a brilliant holiday, but it sure is ours. We like the beach just fine, and there’s not a lot wrong with warmth (she says, pulling on her boots to go outside) but this is lovely too.  Joe and I have been out to Elk Island National Park – Joe has a vague life goal of visiting all the national parks in Canada,  and it was beautiful. Absolutely worth the stomping around in the snow.  (For the record, Albertans, can we just put out there that while that place is filthy with bison, there were no elk, and also, it’s not an island. Just saying.)  We got unbelievably lucky, and it wasn’t very cold at all while we were there.  A perfect day to go looking for bison.

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Not too much snow either, and we made out fine with boots instead of snowshoes.  We saw the biggest beaver lodges ever, and I saw a coyote, walking along with his winter clothes on and the bison? To be out and about and just see bison? Standing there? Doing what they do? (We could have gotten a lot closer, but that’s stupid. Bison can go from standing still to 50km/hr in a few strides if they want to, and they’re freakin’ huge.  We play on their terms in their home. Slow and easy, and from a nice distance.)

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We also went to a rager of a New Year’s Eve rock’n roll party that I swear has left a white streak in my hair that wasn’t there before, and wait! I took a few pictures of another Christmas present I finished this year.  Mittens for Joe.

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Warm and cozy, knit out of Briggs and little wool – and roughly based on the Shetland Ladders Mittens from Ultimate Mittens. They’re ridiculously warm and lovely. Now all he needs is a new hat, and I’m on it.

82 thoughts on “Not exactly a beach

  1. Lovely trip. My brother lives in Alberta.. and his kids both live in Edmonton.. We are hoping to get there this summer.. may take the train across the Rocky Mtns.. lots of knitting time on that trip. Happy New Year.

  2. Haha! Love your choice of romantic getaway… in my opinion, after 20+ years of marriage, there is STILL nothing that beats walking down a nature trail all alone with your sweetie. And those mittens are gorgeous. Enjoy your time away!

  3. You were so lucky to get the nice weather. Today is cold (Feels like -27c), windy with 20cm of snow.
    Elk Island is a lovely park and I am glad you got to enjoy it.

  4. Dagnabbit, other people write one good book and tepid sequels — Robin Hansen just gets better and better and I don’t have this one. Garrumph. (Briggs and Little worsted? Looks finer…)

  5. I’m sure dozens of Albertans will weigh in on this, but – Elk Island, being a game preserve (and yes, there are elk), is symbolically an island, and also its landscape – small rolling hills and depressions – is an island in the flat land surrounding it. Just sayin’. Sometimes Parks Canada goes all poetic.

  6. Used to be a ranger for the US National Park Service. I am so happy to hear you’re keeping a respectful distance from the bison. Everybody talks about the bears, but bison are by far the most dangerous animals in the National Parks. They look like big cows grazing until you get that inch too close to get your picture – then they turn into greased lighting, and toss you 30-40 feet with those razor sharp horns. Then they go back to their grazing like nothing happened. I loved visitors like you and Joe, who get that whole “2000 pound wild animal, 200 pound person” thing.

    • 2000 lbs animal, 200 lbs person indeed. Made me chuckle.

      I live in Florida where the wildlife typically isn’t all that big, but is often incredibly dangerous if messed with (or taught to associate humans with food). Nothing makes my head explode faster than someone feeding that ‘cute baby alligator’ or getting within inches of a raccoon. I know they have no idea they are probably handing that gator a death sentence when he grows up to be a not-so-cute nine footer who still thinks people provide food. Nor that they are risking serious injury and a round of rabies shots with that adorable and really fast raccoon. But, it makes me nuts. Needless to say, my 4 year old has been known to tell tourists “you have to respect the animals. This is their house!”

  7. What a wonderful way to spend a vacation! Mittens are under appreciated. I am glad Joe seems to be enjoying his. Happy New Year!
    My family went to the beach yesterday. No snow where we are, but plenty of cold wind– definite mitten weather.

  8. Thanks for the walk down memory lane! I grew up in Fort Saskatchewan, outside of Edmonton, from 1966 to 1978 and was a frequent visitor to Elk Island. Yes, saw lots of wildlife. No, no elk. (Wanna see elk? Stay in downtown Banff!) Happy New Year to you and yours!

  9. You’re in town? Awesome! I hope you and Joe are enjoying all the snow we’re getting…. I’m super glad I took today off, I can sit, knit and drink tea all day 🙂

    • No kidding – what a time to visit Alberta! But the photos of Elk Island are lovely -we in Edmonton are lucky to have a National Park so close by! and Marg, my mom grew up in Mirror AB – it was my gramma’s hometown for many years – the very mention of Mirror brings back very fond memories of my childhood!
      Happy New Year!

  10. I was so sure you were on a sunny beach but instead you are about 15 minutes from my house! I live in Sherwood Park. I was thrilled to meet you in October at the RCY event and to think I might have bumped into you yesterday if I had gone to the park. LOL Have a great vacation and I think you’ll need your snowshoes and extra woolies today. Brrr!

    • Small world. That’s where my husband’s family live. Someday we mean to get up there and visit. I plan to go in summer though; I’d rather deal with black flies than with snow. Plus they’re always down here in AZ in the winter anyway 🙂

  11. What a neat place to go! Thanks for bringing us along with you! I’ve never seen a beaver in the wild (I saw one dead on the side of the road, once. We stopped the car, and we all got out and looked at it.), so the lodge pic is exciting. Have fun!

  12. If you come to Oregon during winter, I can show you elk. During the summer, they melt into the forest, where no one can find them.

  13. Ah bison, the 800 lb. gorilla of the prairie that goes wherever it wants to. My sister tells the tale of getting a phone call from some tourists wanting them to move the bison closer to the road so they could see them better. She could barely get off the phone before she burst out laughing at the nice people.

  14. Looks like a fun little trip. My husband and I like going places like that too; exploring, seeing wildlife and enjoying each other’s company. I love Joe’s mittens, they make me think of my Dad, who is also a big guy with big hands. I might need to track down a copy of that book. 🙂

  15. I’m glad you ventured there yesterday and not today, I hope you’re enjoying our snowpocalypse!

    Love the mitts! As a new knitter I’m insanely jealous of your skills!

  16. And … with that – welcome back to winter! October with RCY was fun – glad you like us enough to come back! Happy New Year to your household and circle – from a harlot-fan! (about that Gansey – “in a fir tree” perhaps? – Apologies to the Porcupine in a Pine Tree authors!) Admiration to Joe: “vague life goals” are the achievable ones!

  17. You want elk? Come visit Oregon and I will show you both elk AND beach, both on the same day! And if Joe is into national parks, may I recommend Glacier National Park in Montana — in the spring or fall. Just a squirt south of Canada and one of the most magnificent places on earth.

  18. Hurray! I guessed correctly. Elk Island NP was one of my first childhood National Parks. Spent sweet summer (!) weeks camping there. My brother and I would swim out to the islands in Astotin Lake, supported by my mum in the family rowboat. Learned to remove the leeches we would pick up along the way. An excellent life skill. Now there are signs on the beach, warning of swimmer’s itch, etc. I hope there are still brave kids who swim in the lake, parasites and all.

  19. sweet mittens! Yellowstone has lots of elk. Wait…Kelly in the comments above says that OR has lots of elk too…OOoo I’ll have to find some soon.

  20. when you get back home, can you show us the difference between “dress” mittens and regular mittens? Virginia doesn’t warrent mittens on a regular basis. Not cold enough.

  21. Looks like a great place. I remember the bison in Yellowstone. Definitely creatures to be admired from a distance. For the record no elk at Elk Lake? We didn’t see any bears at Yellowstone. Our son was very disappointed. But there were plenty of bison and elk and some moose. Another critter I don’t have a prayer of out running.

  22. We went to Yellowstone one October-the Rut. There was a small herd of elk near the rangers station. I saw an older woman petting a female as if it were tame. The animal looked at her then @ me with an expression that clearly said “can you do something about her?” I explained to this woman that the elk was large wild and not happy. The male who was staring bullets at her was even less pleased. The woman moved away. I finished walking into the station. The ranger told us 6 cars had been gored by males that fall.

  23. I kept looking at all the photos, trying to find the coyote……hours later, I am concluding that the coyote photo did NOT get posted. Beautiful images and fantastic mittens! Maybe a coyote photo next vacation….

  24. I just gave my son some fingerless mittens in the salt-and-pepper pattern you have on the palms. I started with Robin Hansen’s pattern and just stopped and made them fingerless. Mine are black and gray, and just plain salt-and -pepper on the backs, too. I love the double thickness. Joe must be nice and warm!

  25. After today’s snow there should be excellent snowshoeing out here this weekend though! I’m sure Joe is doubly glad of the mittens today, and they’re a handsome pair indeed.

  26. I hope both you and Joe are feeling well again, and that your time away was relaxing and recharging. Being in nature, and really taking it in, can be so restorative.

  27. You went to Alberta for a walk in cold, snowy woods?!?!? Yes, they are lovely, but aren’t there some closer to Toronto??

    However, I think I see the flip side to this. You’re alone together — no daughters, cat, etc. to bother you. Hopefully, you’re staying some place where you and Joe can spend the evenings making out in front of a nice fire. . .;-)!

  28. Wow! Amazing adventure and so Canadian 😉 !! And man, those are some mighty big mitts. I’ll bet he was sure glad to have them out there though.

  29. What fun!! Knit fast (oh yeah, you already do), and enjoy your time away. The mittens are fabulous. I am working away on a second wool hat, knitting as fast as I can.

  30. Even covered in snow, this is one of my favourite places. My family all live in Edmonton, but I live in Wollongong, Australia. I brought the kids home for a visit in May, and of course brought them to the park to see the Buffalo. Looking at these photos makes me homesick! Hope you continue to enjoy it. Plenty of moose there, though I’ve never seen an elk, either. (Though, now that I think of it, some European countries to call a “moose” an “elk”…Maybe how the park came by its name? )

  31. There are so many wonderful parks to see in Canada and I say see them all! I LOVE those mittens and my thoughts right away are those have got to be one of the warmest designs ever!

  32. Sounds like a lovely Christmas break for you. Down here in South Central Wisconsin, we had a white Thanksgiving and a fall-like Christmas. Grandsons from Georgia wanted us to have snow for them so badly. It just snowed this morning, two days after they left. :^)

  33. Sometimes the unusual vacation is more memorable.
    Many years ago (back in the dark ages of the 1970s), Chuck and I were talking about an early December vacation in the Bahamas … somehow we wound up in Quebec City instead! We practically had the Chateau Frontenac to ourselves, ate in 5 star restaurants that were amazing, walked around the beautiful old city, and raced an ice storm back to Montreal where we got SRO tickets at the old Forum to watch the Habs play the Bruins.
    It’s one of the best vacations we took in over 40 years of marriage!

  34. Aha! I would not have guessed Edmonton for a getaway, but then, I live here. Ironically, my recent birthday gift from my parents and sisters is a flight to… Toronto. Do not forget a trip to the Duchess to see a rather large gingerbread cathedral. Go early, otherwise the display cases for the pastries will be nothing but crumbs. Oh, they are closed on Mondays.

  35. There is a game preserve in my town that has it’s own herd of bison. The bison like to come up to the fences and scratch their sides on it. Most people stay a good distance away from the fences when the bison are close. Once, many years ago, this 8 year old boy kept getting closer and closer to the fence, because the bison was right there. And then, via first hand experience, he realized that being pooped on by a bison is a horrible, horrible thing.

  36. Joe is someone after my own heart. I have a vague life goal of visiting all the US National Parks. I was on a good run for a while until a realized that we have several parks in the far north and far south that are accessible only by plane. Those may take me a while.

  37. I live in northern B.C., so the scenery is very reminiscent of the prairie like areas around the foothills of the mountains. I couldn’t help but think about how the colours of Joe’s mittens echo the colour of the winter landscape.

  38. If Joe is planning on more National Parks, he should think about Kluane National Park here in the Yukon. Totally worth the trip! There is also no shortage of knitters that would love to see the Harlot here too! Not much else to do but knit when it’s -34c like today. Oh, and if you want to see elk, I live 20 minutes from downtown Whitehorse and the whole herd likes to sleep on my lawn. They are great fertilizers!

  39. It would have been too tempting for me to run around the perimeter of the trees looking for rubbed off bison fiber to use for thrummed mits.
    Sad Story: a friend was in a national park and came running around the corner of a path and startled a bison that was crossing a small footbridge. The bison fell off the bridge facefirst into the mud and couldn’t get out. I don’t remember if he called the ranger station or ran all the way there but the park ranger said there was nothing they could do and it happened all the time.

  40. Great mittens! They just popped to the top of my to make list. Are they the ‘dress mittens’? What modifications did you make?

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