Punta Cana, Dominican Republic – February 2013

Graeme and I holidayed in Punta Cana in December 2009 (2009 Dominican Republic blog entries)

This time around, it was my wife and I who were hoping to enjoy a bit of warmth and sunshine away from Ottawa’s snow-covered landscape. To travel south from Ottawa, we need to find a tour departing directly from Ottawa or else, as an alternative we drive to Montreal or Toronto to get alight from either of those two travel hubs. On this occasion, we found a Sunwing tour departing from Montreal that fit our schedule. Our flight was scheduled to leave from P. E. Trudeau airport at 9AM so, once we factored in the required three hours for check-in and the 2.5hr drive from home to airport, we decided to drive down to Montreal the day before our flight departure date and stayed at the Holiday Inn Express where for a relatively small extra fee we could park our car until our return from Punta Cana.

The drive from Ottawa to Montreal would normally be uneventful. Not this time, though. High winds and falling/drifting snow reduced visibility in some places to close to zero and added a bit of extra excitement of our trip.

Gatineau, Quebec Balloon Festival/Festival de Montgolfières de Gatineau 2011

(UPDATE: Saturday, September 3, 2011 blog entry – Balloons didn’t launch in the evening but it looked promising for awhile. Photographed other things instead.)

September 2, 2011:It’s that time of year again and the Festival de Montgolfières de Gatineau starts today across the river in Gatineau, Quebec. As usual, weather plays an important role in the direction of the balloon launch and how many balloons actually get up into the air on any given day but certainly, for a few days at least, the skies over Gatineau and Ottawa are dotted with a larger than normal collection of hot air balloons. I try to be in a position to photograph a few of them as they pass overhead.  Not always in the correct location, but fun to try.
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Mount Jo, Trail #77, High Peaks Region, Adirondack Mountains

Mount Jo, Trail #77, High Peaks Region, Adirondack Mountains

October 12, 2006 – The day before.

October 13, 2006 I was staying at the campground maintained by ADK at the base of the trail and overnight the winds howled as the storm front which ‘surprised’ Buffalo, NY with a few feet of snow and knocked out power for 250,000 people passed rapidly through the Adirondacks. After a night of howling winds I awoke early (I didn’t sleep too much that night), shook the ice off the tent and climbed to the summit again. Only a bit of freezing rain and some granular snow had fallen where I was, so the climb in daylight, although slippery, was quite pleasant. This series of photos reflects the blue sky conditions and the beautiful views from the summit of Mt. Jo. Well worth the second climb.

The overnight high winds and rain certainly cleared the trees of their autumn leaves.

A light coating of ice in a few spots required a bit of extra caution through some sections of the trail

Spruce boughs and some of the light granular snow. Pretty insignificant compared to the 2 feet of snow that the passing cold front dropped on Buffalo before reaching the Adirondacks.

A bit tricky but lots of easy handholds .

Only the last short part of the trail required any tricky manoeuvring and even that would have been simple were it not for the photo equipment that I was carrying with me.

What a difference a blue sky makes. The puddle was well frozen but the rising sun would soon change that.

With all of this climbing and worry about howling winds toppling trees onto my tent, I was now just a shadow of my former self (grin).

More Adirondack mountains beckon in the distance. Something to think about over the winter.

Heart Lake under a blue sky.

It was certainly cool at the summit and the puddles from the overnight rain were well frozen.

In the limited visibility of the rain, fog and drizzle of the night before,I had hiked past this outcropping without even realizing it was there. In the fresh morning air everything looked different so although I was hiking the same trail twice in a 12 hour period, it felt like I was hiking two completely different trails.

A granite slab along the trail.

Adirondack Loj – Located on the North Shore of Heart Lake, this lodge is owned by the Adirondack Mountain Club (ADK). The original builder was Melvil Dewey who was a champion of ‘simplified spelling’ thus the spelling “Loj” rather than the more familiar “lodge”. (Info: ADK Adirondack LOJ at Heart Lake)

Later the same morning I climbed Cascade Mountain.