Sunday, August 31, 2008

The Longer You Ride. The Longer You Ride.

This posting is about one of my passions in life. Riding a bike. A very nice female friend asked me, why do I enjoy to ride my bikes so much? Is it to keep in good physical shape? Is it to relive stress and pressure? Or did I just enjoy to ride bikes? My answer to her was, all of the above. My advise to anybody reading this blog is. Any activity that you enjoyed when you were a kid. Never stop doing it. Do it for as long as you can. And you will be able to keep doing it for a very long time. Keep being a kid at heart.

I will now explain the title of this posting. "The Longer You Ride. The Longer You Ride". This title actual has a double meaning. The first meaning has it roots from the racetrack. The explanation is from people that ride horses. Those who ride with longer stirrups. Will overall have a longer career riding horses. Then the riders who ride with there stirrups, pulled up short. Riding with longer stirrups. Gives the rider better balance. Therefor less chance of falling off, and injuring themselves. When the horse acts up, and attempts to throw the rider.

The meaning for bike riders is. Keep doing it, and you will keep doing it for a very long time. Having fun riding a bike. Will keep the rider physically fit. Which will help to enrich and prolong your life.

I have included some pictures of some of my favorite bike rides. From riding locally in Brampton. I enjoy riding on the Chinguacousy trail, which includes riding through Chinguacousy Park. I also enjoy riding up Dixie into the country. As soon as you go pass Country Side Dr. in Brampton. You enter some pristine Ontario farm country. That hasn't been destroyed yet by greedy land developers, and the lack of responsible laws in place to prevent this senseless destruction. Riding in this area, up into the Oak Ridges Moraine. Is a haven for biking enthusiasts like myself, and people who love being in a relaxed country setting.

The forth picture is of my vintage French, Motobecane racing bike. It is a fantastic ride! It is like your riding the wind. This bike was a gift from my excellent friend Keith C. Thanks Keith! Also the first picture is of my restored Raleigh Mountain Bike. Also a gift from Keith. It is my "Old Red Bike". For any Buffett fans reading this, you know what that means!

Saturday, August 23, 2008

Favorite Road Food

This posting will be dedicated to one of my favorite past times. The joy of eating great food. I will do my best to account some of my favorite dinning and eating experiences. During all the time I hit the road, and ventured out into this great big world that we live in.

I will start with my trip to Florida in 1984. I flew into Orlando International airport. By the time I got out of the airport, picked up my rented car. I was famished! Honestly I felt that I had not eaten in a week. The first place that came my way was a McDonald's Restaurant. Like most kids, I was a big, Big Mac fan growing up. I use to enjoy eating the McDonald's classic double hamburger. Topped with cheese, lettuce, onion, pickles and special mayo sauce. All on a sesame seed bun. On this given day. When I pulled into this McDonald's location in Orlando. I would emjoy my most memorable junk food meal. I ordered; One Big Mac, with large fries, and an Arctic Orange milk shake. Arctic Orange is a very obscure flavor for milkshakes. This McDonald's meal was superb. I went on way very satisfied, and ready for my Florida adventure.

Here is the recipe for making an Arctic Orange Milkshake;
1 cup vanilla ice cream, slightly thawed
1/3 cup whole milk
2 tablespoons half-and-half cream
2 tablespoons orange flavor sweetened Kool-Aid drink mix (dry mix)
1 Measure the ice cream into blender and allow to thaw about 6-8 minutes.
2 Add the other ingredients
3 Mix on high speed until smooth.
4 Pour into a 12 ounce cup.

In 1985 I did an amazing driving tour of the Southwest U.S. This trip started in Phoenix and ended 2 weeks later in San Diego. I will mention three memorable meals from this trip. The first took place in the Arizona mountain city of Flagstaff. When I arrived in Flagstaff for the first time. I had achieved a major appetite. On my arrival I found a Sizzler restaurant. I was familiar with these restaurants, because there was a Sizzler location in Buffalo. For anybody who has never eaten at Sizzler. There are like a better quality Ponderosa restaurant. That we Ontarian were very familiar with. However all of these restaurants are now closed. My meal at Sizzler was fantastic! I enjoyed a nice steak with barbecued shrimp. Included in the meal was a beautiful baked potato, and all you could eat salad bar. What a meal. Also I believe the price for this meal was only $7.95. On my return to Flagstaff this past February. I returned to Sizzler. However time hasn't been kind to this eatery. The prices have gone up, and the quality has gone down. Also the salad bar is not included with the meals anymore.

Next two great meals took place in Las Vegas Nevada. At that time Vegas had a reputation for cheap all you could eat buffet meals. I was looking forward to enjoying that. I had no luck gambling in Las Vegas. However I enjoyed some major great eats! The Stardust hotel and casino offered an all you could eat breakfast buffet that was to die for. Anything you could ever imagine enjoying to eat for breakfast was on this buffet. The cost only $1.99. That's right, you didn't read wrong, $1.99. The other fantastic meal was enjoyed at the Dunes Hotel and Casino. That does not exist anymore. The Dunes featured an all you could eat Prime Roast Beef Buffet for only $7.99! This buffet was a lasting great memory. The Roast Beef could be cut with a fork, and the salad bar was superb. I have not been back to Las Vegas. However if you do go. Make sure and enjoy the excellent and cheap food there. In case you loose you money. At least you won't come home hungry.

During my trip to Switzerland in 1986 I tried one of the national dishes. Of course it includes high quality Swiss Cheese. The dish is called "Raclette". Here is the explanation what Raclette is; Raclette is also a dish indigenous to parts of Switzerland, Wallonia and France. The Raclette cheese round is heated, either in front of a fire or by a special machine, then scraped onto diners' plates; the term raclette derives from the French racler, meaning "to scrape". Traditionally, it is accompanied by small firm potatoes (Bintje, Charlotte or Raclette varieties), gherkins, pickled onions, dried meat, such as prosciutto and viande des Grisons, sliced peppers, tomato, onion, mushrooms, pears, and dusted with paprika and fresh-ground black pepper. This dish is normally eaten in the fall or winter months. I tried it, and being a cheese lover. Loved it! To this day I love eating melted cheese, and enjoy a nice Swiss Fondue.

Here is another excellent meal that was enjoyed in Switzerland. It was the day that I met my great friend Peter V/D W. It was in St. Moritz. The date was August 8, 1986. Peter and I dined that night at the Hotel Sonne, located in St. Moritz. It was my first taste of European style pizza. I enjoyed it very much. The crust was thin and tasty. Also the toppings were fresh, and plentiful. In the middle of the pizza. The chef deposited one raw egg. Then this work of art was deposited in the middle of a wood burning fireplace for about 20 minutes. Europeans always eat there pizza with a knife and fork. They don't consume there pizza like a starving Neanderthal Man. Like we do, here in North America. The Hotel is still in business serving the same excellent pizza that I enjoyed back in 1986. It is located at Via Sela 11 St. Moritz, Switzerland.

Next great meal was during my visit to Bermuda in 1987. I was dinning with my brother John. He was with me, for one week during this great two week trip. We found a great Italian place. That served excellent Pizza. It was my second great taste of having Pizza away from home. There were two things that made this pizza a stand out in my opinion. The first was the texture and taste of the wholewheat crust. The other was the zucchini that was chosen to top this great tasting pizza. To this day I still love to add zucchini to the top of a pizza. If you can find a restaurant, that has it. Give it a try. You won't be sorry if you do.

In 1991 I had the rare experience of visiting "Iceland". The land of "Fire and Ice". It was an special experience in my life that I will never forget. The only down side of Iceland is the cost. Being a Scandinavian country, and also being an island. Translates into very high prices for almost everything. You have to be either very wealthy. Or a very experienced and creative budget traveler to visit there. I was wise and purchased the "Lonely Planet" guide book for visiting Iceland, before my trip. I always recommend these guide books to travelers that are visiting a country or place for the first time. These books save you money, and also help you to ensure that you have an excellent time on your trip. My Lonely Planet guide contributed to my favorite meal during my Iceland visit. It was at the "One Woman Vegetarian Restaurant" It was touted as the cheapest and best meal to be found in Reykjavik. I tried it and enjoyed my meal to the hilt! It started with a rich and very pleasing vegetable soup. Then you got to attack the hot buffet, one time only. I filled my plate with an assortment of noodle and rice vegetarian casseroles. This great meal set me back 20 dollars U.S. I can only guess what this meal would cost at today's prices. That thought scares me. I just checked on the web. Great news travelers! This restaurant still exists. It is still located at the corner of Laugavegur and Klappartstigur.

The next great meal that I enjoyed on the road. Was during my journey through England, in 1998. This meal took place at the "Mason Arms" pub, located in the city of York. I have to say right off the top. That I love the city of York. York is truly one of the classy historic cities that exists in our world. This great place should not be missed on trip to England. While in York I stayed at the Copper's Lodge, bed and breakfast. I hiked all the way down "Fishergate St.", from the York train station to arrive at Copper's Lodge. After I arrived and checked in. I was starving. I asked the friendly proprietor, where I could find a great meal. Without any hesitation. He said "walk back down Fishergate, 2 blocks. You will find the "Mason Arms Pub". Order the steak pie with chips. "Not the steak and kidney pie". I listened to him, to the letter. The bottom line is. When you get good advise, always follow it. The meal was one of my all time favorite road meals. The portion, presentation, atmosphere, and service were all fantastic! The steak fries were enormous, and delicious, and the meal was serviced with fresh veggies, that were steamed. I washed this memorable meal down with a pint of "John Smith" ale. That is brewed right in York, Cheers!

Next on my list of great road food. Takes us to the "Windy City" Chicago. It was during my pilgrimage to see the Chicago Cubs play at historic Wrigley Field, in 2001. Chi-Town is known for it's great food. I was not disappointed. I will start with the food I enjoyed inside "The Friendly Confines". They make homemade deep dish Sausage Pizza, right inside Wrigley Field. It was delicious! Also I thoroughly enjoyed the Italian Beef Scalia sandwiches. The tender thinly sliced roast beef is slowly simmered in a slightly spicy beef marinade. The beef is served on a sesame seed roll. I recommend you try one. When your cheering the Cubs on to there first World Championship since 1908. I do enjoy to dream, don't I?

There are also some excellent restaurants to try. That are located very close to the intersection of Addison and Clark. There is a Bar Louie located at 3545 N. Clark St. I enjoyed there best selling specialty sandwich, called the "Steak Luigi" It is grilled steak on a tasty roll, with lots of lettuce, onion, and melted cheese. Topped off with a little olive oil. The other restaurant you should defiantly try on your Chicago experience is "The Pasta Bowl". It is located at 2434 North Clark St. I ate there twice. I also enjoyed the same dish twice. It was the B.V. Pollo. This amazing dish is; Bow tie pasta, with grilled green and red peppers, yellow squash and green zucchini, served in a slightly spicy marina sauce. I enjoyed this meal so much. I do attempt now and then to duplicate this excellent meal at home. To bring back to life, the great memories of being in Chicago and Wrigley Field.

In 2002 it was off to Saint Somewhere. Yes Jimmy Buffett. I spent two glorious weeks exploring and enjoying the best of St. Vincent and the Grenadines. On the island of Mayreau I spent two fantastic days at Dennis' Hideaway. Dennis is the owner of this unique, and comfortable place to stay in the Caribbean. Dennis is a very interesting success story. He was born on Mayreau and as a young age he left the island. To try earn his fortune. By a very young age he became an accomplished sailor, and was soon employed as the captain of sailing yachts. Eventually he return to his native island with enough money saved. To built and start his own business. So Dennis' Hideaway was born. It is an excellent place to stay if you ever make it to this part of the Caribbean. You will feel like Robinson Crusoe, when you are there. Also you will be able to enjoy some great food on Mayreau. Because Dennis is also a talented chief. I felt like I was in heaven on Mayreau, and so did my stomach! Thanks Dennis for a great time!

In 2004 I was off to to visit the "Crescent City" New Orleans. Being a big Buffett fan was my inspiration for holidaying in this city and the Gulf coast. You shouldn't miss out on visiting this great American classic city. I was lucky to visit New Orleans before the horror of "Hurricane Katrina" ripped the Crescent City, right down to it's foundation. Jimmy Buffett use to hang out in New Orleans, and it is the place where the "Man From Magritaville" received his musical influence, and learned the necessary skills to become the talented performer, that he has become. Also Jimmy developed his palate for great food there! The "Camilla Grill" is the best classic dinner I have had the pleasure to eat at. Jimmy started going there and enjoying the great food that the Camilla Grill offers, as a young man. Jimmy claims that this classic eatery solidified his love for the classic American Cheeseburger. When you are in New Orleans go and eat there, and you will find out why! The Camilla Grill can be found at 626 S Carrollton Ave.

The other great restaurant that I will recommend as a defiant try. During your New Orleans experience is called "Port of Call". It has been serving fantastic burgers and steaks in the Crescent City since 1963. So this restaurant is not suitable for vegetarians. Carnivores only please. I enjoyed the ultimate taste and quality for a barbecued burger. It was served with a month watering Idaho baked potato. This New Orleans eatery is awesome! The Port of Call can be found at 838 Esplanade Ave.

In 2004 I went to visit the city of Philadelphia and great friend Charlie Maier. Sadly Charlie passed away in 2007. I lost a great friend, and the world lost the best jukebox repair person in the world. I had a great time on this trip, thanks to Charlie. The best meal during this trip was an original Philly Steak Sandwich, at the place where in all began. Pat's King of Steaks is located in the Italian area of Philadelphia. Here is the history of this restaurant.
Pat's King of Steaks® was founded by Pat Olivieri in 1930. Pat had a modest hot-dog stand at the base of the famous Italian Market in South Philadelphia. One day he decided to have something quite different for lunch, so he sent for some chopped meat from the butcher shop. He cooked the meat on his hot dog grill, placed the meat onto an Italian roll, and dressed it with some onions. Just as he went to take a bite, a cab driver who ate a hot dog everyday asked what he had there. Pat said that it was his lunch. The cabbie insisted that Pat make him one. The cabbie took one bite and said to Pat, "Hey.....forget 'bout those hot dogs, you should sell these." The steak sandwich was born. As the years passed, both employees and customers alike demanded change..cheese was added.

What a hit!
The meal I enjoyed at Pat's will always be an everlasting great memory of my holiday in Philadelphia, and Charlie Maier. If you are visiting Philadelphia. Don't leave town without a visit to Pat's King of Steaks. It can be found where 9th Street crosses, Wharton and Passyunk Avenues in south Philadelphia.

Now we have made it to 2006 and my tour of the coast of California. You cannot visit California without sampling the best in fast food burgers. After all California is the place where in all began. I will feature the two excellent burgers places I enjoyed during my California experience

The first is "In and Out" Burgers. Founded in Southern California in 1948 by Harry Snyder and his wife Esther. These restaurants are a must try for any hamburger lover. The menu is simple and the quality and taste are superb. When I walked into my first "In and Out" location in Fisherman's Wharf, San Francisco I watched with amazement As the employees were hard at work. Cutting french fries out of fresh potatoes. You won't ever see that scene ever, at any of the big burger chain franchises. The prices are also very reasonable for the quality you receive.

The other great burger place featured on my blog is "Hodad's". It can be found at 5010 Newport Ave. Ocean Beach, San Diego. Since 1969 this establishment has been thrilling hunger surfers and anybody that has the craving for eating a fantastic hamburger with fries. The picture that I have posted for "Hodad's" is worth more then 1000 words, enjoy!

Thursday, August 21, 2008

My Home Sweet, Vermont Home.

For my final chapter in my favorite homes, away from home. I'm going to feature my favorite place to stay in Vermont. It is the "Hotel Coolidge". I discovered this fantastic place to stay. During my first visit to the Green Mountain State in October, 2007. Honestly I found the Hotel Coolidge by good luck. I had no reservations when I set out for this trip. During the first two weeks in October is the high season for people coming to visit Vermont. To relax and get away from it all. The beauty of the Green Mountains is stunning. When they become the; The Red, Orange, Golden, and Yellow Mountains. I was very fortunate to find White River Junction, and the Coolidge Hotel. I truly feel that I am at home when I am here!!!

The Hotel Coolidge started as a place of hospitality in 1849. It is listed on the National Registry of Historic Places in the U.S.A. It is located at 39 South Main Street - White River Junction, VT. Right in the heart of this quaint Vermont town. It is like going through a portal in time, when you pull of interstate 91, and roll down the hill into the town. It is truly like you are in another world. What can be better then that! This fanatic place to stay is a also a budget travelers dream come true. They do allot some rooms for Hostel International (HI) Hostel guests. The cost is only $25 per night. So you can easily see why I will continue to keep visiting Vermont. It is a wonderful place to call home.

My Favorite Arizona Home

This past February I had the chance to visit the "Grand Canyon State" Arizona for the second time. It was an excellent winter vacation for me. Travel has always been the chance for me to turn a very normal mundane existence. Into the opportunity to make life, fun, exciting, and real pleasure to experience.

My favorite home away from home on this trip. Was my accommodation in Flagstaff, Arizona. It was the "Grand Canyon International Hostel" located at 19 1/2 South San Francisco Street. Flagstaff is a excellent town to visit. When you are there, and if you don't make some new friends, and haven't had a great time. Then you have had real bad luck, or are a very anti social person. I did have a great time there! Also I made some great news friends. I call Flagstaff the true home of free spirits and travellers. The hostel there is very well run. It offered nice private rooms for only $40. The amenities of this hostel are very good, and free parking is available. Flagstaff is located just below the highest mountain in Arizona. Which is Humphreys Peak at 12,643' high. Flagstaff attitude is just below 7000 feet. This town is a great location for staying prior to a visit to see the Grand Canyon.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

California favorite homes!

In February of 2007. I had the chance to tour California. I had an excellent time. I am going to feature three great places. That I got to call home during my California adventure, in this posting.

The first part of this trip began in San Francisco. I have heard mixed reviews of people that have visited the city by the bay. Some people love it, and some people don't. I'm on the love it list. I had an excellent time exploring San Francisco and the Bay area. A big part of my success was my accommodation. I stayed at the HI Hostel, located at Fort Mason. This is the best location you could possibility stay, during a visit to San Francisco. You are a stone's throw from the Bay. I use to wake up ever morning, and enjoy the short walk to see the Bay. Looking west you would have an excellent view of the Golden Gate Bridge. It is all park land leading up to the bridge from Fort Mason. Walking east from Fort Mason you would soon arrive in Fisherman's Wharf. It is the tourist action spot of San Francisco. With a lot of choice for food, and entertainment. Also from Fort Mason, it was an easy walk to get into the excellent public transit system, that San Francisco features.

The staff in The Fort Mason Hostel were all friendly, and helpful. The accommodations were fine, and the amenities in the hostel were great. Also this hostel offers free parking for cars. That is a big bonus! It is by far the best budget place to stay in the city by the Bay.

The second great place that I stayed, was in the city of Monterrey. I can only say great things about this travel hostel. It was of the best that I have had, the pleasure to stay at. The location is excellent. The comfort, the management, and the amenities were all great! I just hope that I make it back there one day. Overall the Monterrey Carmel area, is the best part of California to visit. In my opinion.

Last and not the least. Is the HI hostel that I stayed at, during my visit in San Diego. This great place to stay is located in the Point Loma neighborhood. I have to admit. That San Diego, California is one of my favorite overall cities. That I have had the chance to visit. During my travels. San Diego is clean, comfortable, and very safe for an American city. It boosts an almost perfect climate, and is a paradise for anyone who enjoys recreational biking, like myself. The hostel located in Point Loma is a very comfortable and a friendly place to stay. You are only a 20 minute bike ride from the hostel to downtown San Diego. Parking is free on the streets, right by the hostel. Also as an added bonus. The friendly staff that run this great hostel offers free all you can eat pancakes, for your breakfast, every morning. That was a very nice gesture, from a excellent place to stay during your visit to San Diego.

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

My favorite homes in France- 2000

All of my trips have been special. However the trip to France in the year 2000. Will always hold special meaning for me. It was because I got to travel with great friend Peter V/D W. Peter has always been a great friend and mentor to me. Also it was the special places and the itinerary that Peter and I chose on this trip. Our accommodations on this holiday were also very special. I will now remember and present to you. Some of the best places, that we had the chance call home, during our vacation in France.

The first place that we stayed was one of the best. It was a hostel located in what use to be a monastery. This monastery was part of a huge chateau, that is located in the French town of Le Treport. When we walked into the Centre des Fontaines - Eu-Le Treport hostel. You could just feel the history and the special atmosphere, that this accommodation offered. Here are two pictures that I took of the hostel located in Le Treport.

Next great place Peter and I stayed in France. Has a excellent story behind it. It began on Tuesday July 11th. The day began with us touring the history in Dieppe. Then in the afternoon. Peter and I made the races in Deaville. This picturesque town is the home of one of France's prestigious racehorse meets during the summer. Peter and I arrived in time to watch the last 3 races. This was my first time ever attending the races in Europe. I looked at the horses in the walking ring. I sorry to say that I can't speak a word of French. So I had to rely on my horse instincts to try and handicap a winner. I decided to bet 10 French Francs (The equivalent of 2 Canadian dollars) on two horse to win. On the number 6 horse and the number 9 horse. To my delight the number 6 horse (Test Ze Legend). Made the lead turning for home, and held on determinedly for a 1/2 lenght win. I was even more delighted when I cashed my ticket, and received $159.60 FF for my winning bet. Test Ze Legend had won at odds of 16 to 1. We were now moving on to the city of "Bayeaux" to celebrate my win at the races. Dinner was on me!

During the dinner at a restaurant in Bayeaux. Our table was close to a nice couple from San Diego, in the U.S.A. During the conversation Peter and I had with Jamie and Cindy. We asked them where they were staying. Well, we were to receive a fantastic review of an accommodation near Bayeaux. Jamie and Cindy told us, they were staying at a 17th century farmhouse. That was being used as a "bed and breakfast". They said it was fantastic, very comfortable, and the price was cheap. The cost was only about $25 dollars per person. That night Peter and I stayed at the hostel. That was an annex of the main hostel located in Bayeaux. The main hostel was full. So Peter and I had to stay in the associated hostel. It was O.K., nothing wrong with it. However it was nothing to rave about. Peter and I talked about trying to find the old farm house, that Jamie and Cindy had told us about. So after touring the "Normandy Beaches" in the morning. We set out to find the 17 century farmhouse, bed and breakfast.

It was a challenge. However Peter and I were up to the challenge. Success! We found the charming and beautiful bed and breakfast "LA FERME DES PERELLES". Located at 14400 saint-vigor-le-grand. It was everything you dream about. Actually being in France. I would stay there again for sure. Here are some great pictures. I took of this historic, and fantastic accommodation.

I have saved the best for last. Chateau Morahan was the best place that Peter and I, got to call home. During the summer of the year 2000, while we toured France. Peter and I found this fantastic place to stay, just by chance. We were driving along enjoying the great scenery in the Loire Valley. Then Peter noticed a road sign advertising Chateau Morahan being offered as a bed and breakfast. We both agreed that we had to try and find the Chateau. Having the chance to stay in such a historic place is always and exciting possibility. Sure enough we found Chateau Morahan. Wow! It was just like living a dream. The whole experience was surreal. The Chateau was run by a very nice French lady. The castle was bit rundown, inside. However the accommodation for two expert budget travellers was luxurious. The lady served us a great breakfast outside. We enjoyed eating, while enjoyed a beautiful French morning. It doesn't get any better then that! Staying in this fabulous place will always be one of the highlights of may amazing trip to France, during the summer 2000. Now enjoy some great pictures. That I took of the castle.

Rare souvenir- Schloss Hegi

Here is a rare souvenir of my Swiss holiday from 1986. It is the advertisement from Schloss Hegi. I picked it up at one of the other Swiss hostels I stayed at. I was very lucky to find this piece of paper. It produced some special memories for me. Schloss Hegi will always be one of my favorite homes, away from home!