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Cooking On The Road: Tin Pan Galley

16 Jan

Camping is big business and outfitters offer a tremendous array of cookware, stoves, and accessories.  In fact, there are so many options that making a decision is often paralyzing to the novice.  Unless you are hauling your bikes in/on a trailer and have room for a gas barbecue and a massive ice chest, choices are limited mostly by size and to a lesser degree, weight. Continue reading

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On The Rocks: A Night At The Ice Hotel

1 Jan

With wind blowing out of the northwest and the temperature at minus-19 degrees Celsius the Quebec forest feels like a setting for one of Jack London’s stories. However, once through the massive iron-strapped oak doors, the relative warmth of the interior, even with breath rising hard and white in the still air, is surprising.  Ahead stretches a reception hall of a style that can only be described as Tolkienesque: walls the color of the finest Carrara marble are carved in bas-relief beneath a Gothic arched ceiling supported by crystal-clear pillars of ice.  In the center of the hall a massive ice chandelier infused with ever-changing spectral hues glows in dim splendor. Boots leave a trail of waffled imprints across a floor raked with Zen precision and one expects to encounter an ice queen or perhaps the White Witch of Narnia at any moment.

This is the Waldorf-Astoria of igloos, the world-famous Hôtel de Glace (Ice Hotel) near Quebec City.  Detailed descriptions are useless: the hotel is built to a new design and the sculptural theme differs each year. Embedded LED lighting transforms 500 tons of carved ice and 15,000 tons of sculpted snow into surrealistic visions.  Animal skins cover chairs and benches carved from special ice that’s made in Montreal and trucked north. Foam mattresses grace crystalline beds.  One suite has a fireplace and a hot tub; one of the monastic rooms has a floor to ceiling pierced wall of ice as the footboard to the bed.  Other bedrooms feature elaborately carved walls with fantasy designs, dragons, hockey players, and artifacts or photographs embedded in blocks of ice. Continue reading

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