Capital City

June 30, 2010 at 10:33 pm 3 comments

It felt right to visit Canada’s capital city halfway through my trip. Perhaps this was also because I have a “family” in Ottawa, so it felt right to have a place to do laundry. Clean clothes are a wonderful thing, although more effective when you don’t leave one of your pairs of jeans behind. I know this now.

My “family” in Ottawa is the Culhane family—Phil, Rhonda, and Cate. I’ve spent a lot of time with them over the past year, photographing figure skating, and it was just so nice to have a couple of days to relax in a place where I felt like I belonged. It was also nice to see Ottawa from somewhere other than the car on the way to the rink.

Of course, getting there was an adventure, as usual. First, the route from Parry Sound to Ottawa involved Huntsville, but we were travelling on Wednesday, June 23rd—the first day of highway closures for the G8 summit. So we created a detour that took us through Port Carling, a charming town and home of the world’s largest photomosaic, as well as the world’s most amazing banana-almond smoothies (Thanks, Juicery!). However, my GPS, Lee, had a hard time keeping us on paved roads to get us from Port Carling to Highway 60, far enough from Huntsville that we could get right onto the highway. After a few terrifying twisty gravel roads, we finally made it, just as an earthquake rocked the Ottawa region. Much to the surprise of all of the people texting both Chele and me, we didn’t feel a thing.

Then, after we crossed Algonquin Provincial Park on Highway 60, Lee took us off the highway again, this time for well over an hour on county roads through sparsely populated farmland—only to dump us right back on 60 again, not far from Ottawa. So weird. By that point, we were hitting Ottawa right at rush hour. Oups. But at least we made it, and not a moment too soon. As soon as we let ourselves into the Culhanes’ house, I power napped on the couch.

Despite multiple trips to Ottawa in the past few years, I hadn’t been downtown since 2006, and I was pleasantly surprised. After a fabulous sleep and an early morning trip to the rink to watch Cate and the other dancers practice, Chele and I were ready to explore the capital. Since Parliament Hill was choked with tourists and workers setting up a stage, possibly for Jazz Fest, we spent most of our time in the ByWard Market area. I’d been by the market during past trips, but I felt like I was really seeing it for the first time. I loved peeking into the little shops and I loved our food choices for the day: Beaver Tails and Planet Coffee. A winning combination, if you ask me. Phil raves about Planet Coffee on Twitter all the time, so I was so excited to try it, and it had been years since I last had a Beaver Tail. I hope it’s not years before I have another, that’s all I have to say about that.

However, the best part of the trip was certainly our quick jaunt across the border into Gatineau, Québec. We went to the Museum of Civilization, the one museum in Canada I’ve been wanting most to visit. Since we didn’t want to spend the whole day there (and I sure could have), we just stuck to the most pertinent floors for this trip: 1000 years of Canadian history on the 3rd floor and 25 Influential Canadians on the 4th floor. I’m still wondering why Terry Fox wasn’t included on the 4th floor, but other than that, I was so impressed and thrilled by the museum. The details were incredible, including complete replicas of old-fashioned stores, a Yukon restaurant, an airport lounge from the 1960s, and more. Everything was so much more ornate and interactive than I had imagined. Fantastic place, and great for both kids and adults.

We sat down for a “family dinner” with the Culhanes and Bryn, one of Phil’s colleagues, in the evening after our trip downtown, and enjoyed another relaxing night in before our last morning in Ottawa (and one more trip to the rink) before we backtracked a bit and went back to Toronto. More about that eventful weekend in the next blog!


Entry filed under: Ottawa.

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3 Comments Add your own

  • 1. Sue Huff  |  July 1, 2010 at 7:55 am

    I’m so excited for you. What a wonderful opportunity. I’m glad Jules could share some of this trip with you.
    I’m anxious to see all the pics and read the finished product. The way you write, I’m sure I’ll feel like I was in Canada myself. Keep up the great work!

  • 2. Maman  |  July 1, 2010 at 4:34 pm

    Can you please explain what a beaver tail is? I’m only getting one visual, and it’s not an appetizing one!

    • 3. melaniehoyt  |  July 2, 2010 at 9:43 pm

      It’s fried dough with a topping, like an elephant ear, but less greasy and a lot better. An Ottawa classic!


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A serial road tripper chronicles her adventures.


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