There are two things I know about this blog. One, I have not been very active of late. Two, this is not a food and wine blog. And three, no one likes a show-off. So of course, I’m going to try to post frequently over the next week, about wine & food, and brag just a little.

Today was my birthday, so when the last conference call was done, I opened a vintage ale – not my oldest by far, but still lovely.


This was followed by a lovely pancetta, mushroom, and asparagus risotto, compliments of my dear wife.


With a lovely Amarone that has been lurking in my cellar for the better part of two decades.


I’m headed off for a weekend with all of my siblings – the first time in nearly a decade that all five of us have been together. And I cannot remember the last occasion we were all together that didn’t involve a wedding or a funeral…

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A Beautiful Autumn Day

It was a beautiful day in DC today – warm and sunny. Of course, I spent the day indoors, but still…

On my walk back to the hotel I couldn’t resist a few photos with the deep blue of the sky as a backdrop.


A church…


And finally, another random D.C. building…


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Just Another Day…

Other than a fabulous dinner at Rose’s Luxury, my trip to Washington last week was utterly uneventful. Although, I suppose discussing politics at the bar with a couple of English Lit profs from the deep south did have a certain dissonance, but alas, these days dissonance is not in short supply. The next day we were treated to perfect sunshine… and I spent the entire day in a conference room. The fact that I could see just how lovely it was outside didn’t exactly help.

This church was clearly visible from the conference room, so on my walk to the metro I couldn’t resist a picture.


Just look at that sky.

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A Little Nuts

Proof positive that things in DC are “a little nuts” lately.


And on a completely different note, the cloud formations were really amazing when I was flying into DCA this morning.


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Day 6 – Quebec City Revisited

We planned our return trip so that today would be a short drive, to allow time to explore old Quebec City. Good thing, because it was not an easy drive. The rain from yesterday was back with a vengeance and visibility was abysmal for much of the drive.


Notice the barely visible car emerging from the mist? Fortunately I noticed it in plenty of time to slow down.


Needless to say we were pleased to arrive in Quebec City, park the car for the day, and head out for lunch at the 3 Brasseurs for pizza and a Milkshake IPA. In addition to being quite possibly the best beer I have ever tasted, this is the only time I have ever ordered a beer and been asked if I am lactose intolerant.


By the time we had finished lunch the rain had let up for the day, and we set out to wander around the city. There is so much to see in Quebec City that it is difficult to decide what to show, but I will try to pick out a few themes. I’ll start with the citadel, beginning with a view of a weather vane seen over the walls.


We walked around the base of the citadel, providing many interesting views, including this shot of a cannon protruding from the walls.


Many of the old buildings have copper roofs, which over time age to a dark green. A number of the buildings are being renovated, so we saw some newly installed copper roofs.


You will notice that some of the roof has already turned from the new “salmon” colour to a light brown. We were curious about how quickly this happens, and learned this can happen within a matter of days. The change from brown to green is much slower, and can take an additional 5 – 8 years. This picture shows both the new and the old roofs.


Quebec City has a decidedly European feel, with many historic buildings. I will show just two to give a feel for what the city has to offer. First, detail from a clock tower.


And next, a shot of a historic street near the citadel.


We spent a good while following the old city walls, but I am not going to show you any pictures of that today. Instead I am going to focus on a different aspect of Quebec City – the range of architectural styles that coexist in close proximity within the city.

I’ll begin with a shot of the different roof styles.


Next, I want to show a view of the Chateau Frontenac, but one that captures a number of different styles.


The range of architectural styles sometimes shows up in the additions to the buildings over the years. In this case, the subsequent stages are apparent in this wall.


As we were making our way back to the hotel, we came across anotherĀ  scene, with 1940’s architecture and 1960’s architecture bracketing an orphanage built in 1850.


And finally, a shot of the same orphanage from a different angle that illustrates the range of styles, from the 1850 orphanage to a starkly modern apartment building, with art deco and brutalist 60’s/70’s architecture in between.


You also find buildings like this.



When we were almost back at our hotel we passed a small park and on a whim decided to have a look. Another good call. It was a beautiful oasis in the city with waterfalls, ponds and flowers beautifully arranged.






We finished the day with a lovely dinner at a local microbrewery called Noctem, which was the perfect end to the day.



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Day 5 – Rimouski

Yesterday we got caught up in the search for the McEachern ancestral stomping grounds and didn’t arrive in Charlottetown until quite late. Fortunately we were still early enough to find a lovely pub for dinner, but unfortunately we were too late to see much of the city. So we decided to delay our departure and take the morning to walk around the capital, however briefly. We stared with St Dunstan’s Basilica Cathedral, conveniently close to Starbucks, and adjacent to the statue of Bishop Angus MacEachern.


From there we walked through Confederation Landing (more history lessons…) and then headed over to Victoria Park. Along the way we saw more historic maritime houses.


It was a bright sunny day, with brisk winds, making for a thoroughly enjoyable morning.


I have often been told that I am easily amused. It may be true, because one of the more interesting things I saw along the waterfront was the lichen growing on the red PEI rocks.


We would have loved to keep exploring, but we were running out of time. We headed back to the hotel before check out time. The rest of the island will have to wait for our next visit – which I suspect will be fairly soon.

Here is a parting shot of the bridge as we headed back to the mainland.


And then it was driving. We knew this was going to be one of our longer days – a good eight hours on the road. It was warm and sunny when we left PEI, so we were able to enjoy driving with the top down. But within an hour or two we had to accept the inevitable and put the top up. Good thing, because before long the temperature began to drop and the skies opened up.

On day two, the drive south from Quebec City had been easy, but relatively uninteresting. We passed through long stretches of road with nothing to see but the trees on either side of the road. We chose a different return route in the hope of finding something more interesting. At the half way point we were wondering if we had made the right call. Instead of a four lane divide highway, we had a two lane road, but the view was the same – nothing other than trees on either side. The heavy rain wasn’t helping either, but as the rain began to ease we realized that the “dark clouds” were actually hills.


And as we drove, the mountains began to emerge. Turns out we were driving through the northern portion of the Appalachian mountain range.


For the next two hours, we drove through a fairy land of ancient mountains shrouded in mist, punctuated by beautiful river valleys.


The pictures really don’t do it justice, but they give you a sense of the beauty of the area. Early in the day we were questioning our decision to take this route, but by the end of the day we were convinced we would return.

We arrived in Rimouski early in the evening, and decided to go for a walk along the St. Lawrence river where we were treated to just a hint of the sun setting over the river.


Just before we headed out for our dinner, we spotted a heron looking for its dinner.



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Day 4 – Charlottetown

This was one of those “you couldn’t make this stuff up” days.

We knew we were spending tonight in Charlottetown. We had a few recommendations for things to do in PEI. And my grandfather was born in PEI, so I wanted to see where he grew up, though I only had a rough idea of where that was. But beyond that, we didn’t have any concrete agenda mapped out. We were winging it. And in that spirit we made one final stop on our way out of Halifax to see an artifact of the great Halifax harbour explosion of 1917. The plaque says it all.


Then it was off to PEI, which is a comfortable 3 – 4 hour drive, including a rather impressive drive across a 10 km bridge. Somewhat arbitrarily, we picked Cavendish for our first stop, followed by Scotchfort, which is where (I think) my grandfather lived. Our GPS decided to take us to Cavendish park. We hadn’t intended to stop, but admission to all National parks is free for Canada’s 150th birthday so we decided “what the heck”. Good call.


The park has a beautiful sand beach with grass covered sand dunes just behind the beach. Today was the warmest day of our trip so far, so it was lovely walking barefoot along the sandy beach.


And of course, we continued the tradition of touching the bottom of the ocean, by adding the PEI coast to the list.


The wildflowers just behind the beach were stunning.




Now this is where it gets interesting. On a whim we googled “McEachern PEI” and found KnitPickers by Margaret McEachern – in Cavendish. We decided it would be rude if we didn’t stop by and say hi. By the time we left, an hour later, we had learned that we were quite likely distant cousins through Sandy Alexander McEachern, who was apparently quite a character. He was a rum runner, operated a gambling house, and nearly lost the family farm. And that is just the stuff that people remembered. We discovered that the McEacherns are in fact a distinct clan (not an offshoot of the McDonalds, like we have always been told) and that there is a gathering of the clan planned for next year to make it all official, including the adoption of our own tartan.

All of this new information required a change of plans. We headed east to Souris (pronounced “Surrey”) to find the seat of the McEachern clan. I’m not completely sure about this, but I think we may have found my great great great grandmother’s grave.


… and the church where they worshiped.


By the end of the day, I’d pushed my family history back another four generations.

Our original plan, such as it was, involved arriving in Charlottetown late afternoon and exploring the town. Instead, we found ourselves an hour out of town at 7:00 PM.


I think there will be many evenings researching genealogy in my future. Like I said, you just couldn’t make this stuff up.

P.S. This post was composed in the Gahan House Brewery while enjoying amazing PEI mussels (probably the best I’ve ever tasted), delicious seafood chowder, and wonderful local ales.


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