Category Archives: Canada

Dispatch from the Yukon

This has nothing to do with my previous post here, but rather was crafted today and thought some of you might enjoy a “real time” update on my adventures in the North!

August 18, year of our lord 2014
Dawson City, Yukon Territory

Dear Log,
I have survived the Wild, as my friend Jack London refers to her, and staked a claim on Bonanza Creek next to where the first gold was discovered. Alas I am not a good gold planner, and will be abandoning my claim to favor my previous life calling.
Nevertheless I am in good spirits, and would declare this expedition as successful and morale high despite the low American bacon rations. Dawson City is a frontier town with every 19th century convenience a body would expect, from wooden sidewalks to false storefronts to a lascivious gambling hall where the can-can is common. The natives, or “Canadians” as they call themselves, are a friendly people even if the men often proudly display missing front teeth in these parts due to a barbaric ritual game on ice popular to show bravery.*
I will hasten to return to Alaska on the morrow by way of the Yukon River and, by grace of Providence, onwards to Anchorage where I will secure passage to the Netherlands in the coming days. I pray my resolve will see me through!

Yours faithfully,
Miss Yvette Cendes

*Ed. note: seriously, I’ve seem ’em around!







In honor of the first person who is going to point out Vancouver is not a part of Alaska, allow me to explain that I am catching a ship here north (later today). But a shame to not look around here first…

Vancouver honestly strikes me as a generic modern city whose charm lies in how easy it is to escape to the outdoors, be it the beach or the mountains via bike or boat or whatever you like. In my short time there I spent the majority of my time awake either on a bike or at the beach with an old travel buddy, which is a great way to kick start a holiday!

But all too soon it was time to go. The city near wilderness is a nice layover, but the Last Frontier calls…




Derby Line, Vermont- A True Border Town

I returned to the United States from my Quebec romp to the great state of Vermont after leaving Canada and answering questions from a border guard who was genuinely curious as to what on Earth I do to have so many different passport stamps (a first, actually).  I needed to stop for gas because it’s significantly cheaper on the American side, and this innocuous reason led me to Derby Line, Vermont, a small community of ~700 souls that I’d read about before but was tickled pink to actually see in person.

Because you see, Derby Line, VT is actually contiguous with another town called Stanstead, QC, which is a rather fancy way of saying the border between the USA and Canada runs smack dab through the center of town.  People who live in the community often have their houses in the USA but enter Canada when they back their car out of the driveway, town meetings are sometimes held in a foreign country, and even the sewage makes a cross-border journey for treatment.  I’ve always thought it must be neat to live there, partly as a symbol of how borders are just lines and we’re all people but mainly because I think it would be cool to travel between two countries whenever I wanted a snack from the kitchen.

Of course such a beautiful system that had worked for hundreds of years was sure to be tampered with by idiots who don’t know a good thing when they see one- namely the United States government- and after 9/11 US Customs and Border Protection decided to tell a town of less than a thousand souls that their undocumented border crossings were a threat to homeland security.  There was talk and outrage because the Powers That Be were interested in shutting down some of the roads to traffic, and this was of particular concern to the community because the library/opera house was built directly on top of the border.  By a dual nationality couple intent on fostering cross-border ties.

Anyway, after such a quirky little story I had to take a look around, right? Continue reading

A Visit to Montmorency Falls

The problem with visiting a waterfall and then deciding to write about it is, really, there isn’t that much to say about them that no one finds that interesting.  I mean I enjoy visiting them and becoming captivated by rushing water, but I really can’t think of a good way to describe the interest so an audience is similarly captivated.  Just one of those things.

That said, if you find yourself in Quebec City and enjoy waterfalls without me having to explain why they’re so cool, it’s worth driving the 15 minutes or so out of town to see Montmorency Falls.  It’s actually taller than Niagara Falls by 30m (~100 feet), so certainly nice for those of us who get rather mesmerized by falling water and all that. Continue reading

Quebec City

One of the great solaces in my life is whenever things aren’t going as I’d like in mine I can always feel a little better thinking this world can’t be a terrible place because it’s still the one that has my favorite places in it. I might be stuck in the middle of an Ohio blizzard or on a misconnection from hell or a myriad of other things no one particularly enjoys experiencing, but at that very moment someone is making a new friend on Ko Sahn Road in Thailand, there is a gorgeous sunset over an ocean, a leopard is enjoying a nice nap in South Africa, and some astronomer on a telescope is making a new discovery.  Life might not be the best for me but it clearly is still charming in a lot of other places.

I mention this because it’s impossible for Quebec City to not strike your fancy and I’m fairly certain it will make my “list of places that are pleasant even if my current one isn’t” reverie in the future.  Just look at this place! Continue reading

The Montreal Biodome

One unusual detail about travel is I can tell you where every single summer Olympics in the past 60 years or so has taken place.  This isn’t really intentional but rather happens because an awful lot of major cities have old structures left over somewhere on the edge of town from when they hosted the Olympics, but ever since they honestly have little idea what to do with them.  As a result you have a tourist attraction where something famous did happen but is now more appropriate for filming a zombie movie. Continue reading

Good Old Montreal

Here’s an interesting detail for you: it is actually a relatively small quirk of fate that I did not grow up in Montreal.  My dad went to graduate school and even taught at McGill just before he married my mother and took another professorship at Carnegie-Mellon in Pittsburgh, and it’s always fun to think about what-might-have-beens.  In a parallel universe there is undoubtedly an Yvette who looks just like me but is Canadian, trilingual, and was not fated to a lifetime of no one being able to pronounce her name correctly.

Anyway, these thoughts have come up because I’m in Quebec this weekend as a part starve off boredom/ see a bit of my American backyard while I’m still initiative.  First was a thorough exploration of Old Montreal, and let’s just say my dad has a fair bit to answer for now leaving such a pretty place- Continue reading

Photo: Niagara Falls

I’m in New York (City) this weekend so here’s a photo of one of the more famous landmarks in that state while I’m away- taken from the Canadian side, yes, but the land you’re looking at is in the USA! And the little boat you see here of course is the Maid of the Mist for scale.

I visit or pass through here about once a year as it’s a ~3 hour drive from Cleveland. The most recent was last fall, post Victoria Falls visit, so it was interesting to compare the two- in short I hate to admit it but Niagara Falls just isn’t that impressive anymore! I thought they were comparable in height when I was at Vic Falls but seeing Niagara afterwards made me notice how puny it was in actuality- you also stand a lot further from Niagara than Vic Falls (where you get so wet from the spray you resemble a wet rat towards the end) so that didn’t assist my perception.  But Niagara Falls is a lot closer to me than Victoria Falls, and only one of them has a Hershey store!