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Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Oh, Canada! Calgary: don't look down! & THE best lunch at The Belvedere!

Back to our recent toad trip across the USA & Canada!
We drove down from British Columbia to  Calgary, and coming into the outskirts of the city we stopped to get gas, and had the Very nice surprise of a really good Vietnamese lunch of pho (Dan) and roast pork with vermicelli (me) when we filled up the tank on the outskirts of Calgary, at Treasures of Saigon, a small Vietnamese restaurant tucked away in a gas station strip mall! 

We stayed at the Econolodge Motel Village on the outskirts of Calgary, as it had an electric hook up for our freezer full of moose meat (THE priority on our road trip home), AND because we THOUGHT we were getting Choice Hotel promotion points. (We stayed at 6 Choice Hotels on the way home for that very reason- and put up with a lot of crud as they are Not the best hotel chain by any stretch- and came home to learn we had been screwed out of all the promotion points. We then wrote a letter to the Choice Hotel CEO, and got told to stuff it, so this will be The Last Time we stay at a Choice Hotel if we can help it). 
In the evening we drove into downtown Calgary, so Dan could see if he recognized anything since his last time here many decades ago (he did), drove back, and wound up at Tipperary's Pub for a pleasant dinner of a steak sandwich (Dan), a bison burger (me), which they made rare as I ordered it, and which was, thus, butter-tender, sweet potato fries, and Maple Beer- which was quite good- and I’m not much of a beer drinker!
In the morning we drove into downtown Calgary and first went to the top of the Calgary Tower, which now has an Extremely cool glass floor, so you can freak yourself out looking down on the streets of Calgary and take suitably silly photos: 

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We then strolled around downtown, took in a modern art exhibition at The Art Gallery of Calgary, window shopped, enjoyed the street art and the bicycle cops, and witnessed a march in support of abducted aboriginal (Indian) women...
Poutine- The Official Dish of Canada!
We didn't have any, so I guess we'll have to return! :-)

Dan with two Canadians...

Downtown Calgary

LOVE this!!!

March in support of abducted aboriginal (Indian) women

We topped it all with one of THE best lunches ever- a truly fine, gourmet, farm-to-table dining experience- at The BelvedereWe had Alberta beef tartare, Gaufrette potatoes in duck fat; seared Quebec foie gras with an ice wine gelee and pecan praline; Canadian Oysters w/raspberry & pepper mignonette sauce, Alberta pheasant confit, with green peppercorn jus and candied orange royal, and excellent Canadian wines... 
One last, fabulous gourmet Canadian meal...
Seriously- does it get better than this?! 
We walked into this elegant "power lunch" restaurant without reservations, basically because it looked nice, only minutes before they closed at 2p.m. We were charmingly seated and served immediately, and our server was a delight! He let us (and other guests) linger as long as we wanted so we could truly savor the delectable food and wine. We took our sweet time and enjoyed every, single bite, as we knew, sadly, that this was not only going to be our last meal in Canada, it would probably be our last fine meal for quite awhile...

The Belvedere, Calgary: one of THE Great, Good Meals...
We stopped at a pharmacy on our way out of town so I could get a bottle of those AbFab muscle relaxant-pain killers I'd grown to love on our hunt; I also got Dan a Canadian Indian arthritis remedy that seems to have some medical research to back it up, and some anti-aging creams I'd never heard of- maybe the Canadians have something that actually works to take the years off! :-) In the late afternoon we finally got on the road and made for the border. At the Coutts, Alberta Canadian Duty Free Store we bought 2 more bottles of BC wine, and bottles of Canadian Port, Maple Whisky, and Yukon Jack, & a Moose Crossing magnet- and somehow managed to jam them into the packed-like-a-drum truck! (My only shopping disappointment was that I never did get a wearable moose souvenir. I'd been looking for a unique moose shirt or sweater, or silver moose jewelry of some sort, but never found anything really special… I guess I'll have to peruse eBay!)  We got to the Coutts-Sweetgrass Border Crossing around 8p.m. and it was truly a breeze, which totally surprised me! With our freezer full of moose meat, our boxes of hunting gear, and all our paperwork, not to mention the "government shut down" issue, I was expecting to have to kill hours there getting the 3rd degree! But we were totally squared away, and were back on the road in no time! We drove into Shelby, Montana, and found, yes, masochists that we are, another Comfort Inn with an electric hook up...
Next: Montana & North Dakota!

Sunday, December 29, 2013

WVVA-TV Spotlight on West Virginia: The Elkhorn Inn!

We recently had a WVVA-TV video-journalist visit the Elkhorn Inn & Theatre to tape a small television program, and here it is:
Spotlight on McDowell County: The Elkhorn Inn!

WVVA TV Bluefield Beckley WV News, Weather and Sports

Chef Dan Clark, being interviewed by WVVA-TV at The Elkhorn Inn

Friday, December 27, 2013

Oh, Canada! Jasper, Glacier-Walking (in heels), and Banff- you had us at "caribou"!

And now... back to our Canada Road Trip! We left Prince George, on Highway 16, heading for Jasper, but first we had to stop for pix with Mr. PG   the mascot of Prince George, who was:constructed in 1960 as a symbol of the importance of the forest industry to Prince George:
Dan with PG Man...
Elisse with PG Man...

The drive on Highway 16 to Jasper is an Amazingly beautiful drive through the Rocky Mountains... If you are only going to One Thing in Canada, this drive is THE thing to do...

Stops along the way:
"coffee in, coffee out", and feeding crows...

Feeding the crows...

A "Wildlife Overpgass" on the highway! Cool!


We stopped in McBride for lunch and had the loveliest surprise- a truly gourmet lunch at Morel's! We walked in expecting a diner, and were greeted with gourmet-level homemade food, excellent wine, a charming ambiance, and lovely service! What a gem! We popped in again at the McBride Heritage Railway Station before getting back on the road...

McBride Heritage Train Staion

We arrived in Jasper in the evening, hunting through the AAA guidebook (our Travel Bible) for a hotel with an electric hook-up, as all the stops on our way home will have to be at hotels or motels that have electric hook-ups for our freezer full of moose meat! Our first stop was at an AAA-recommended hotel whose clerk not only told me that we couldn't use their hotel’s electric hook-up because it would constitute “illegal camping”(?!), but called their sister hotel so we couldn't stay there, either, and then started to call the Tourism Information Office to REALLY screw us! (Why are         a-holes like this in the hospitality business?!) I told her we were immediately leaving the Park- Jasper is in the middle of Jasper National Park which you have to pay a pretty penny to enter-  and stormed out the door. Within 5 minutes we'd found a nice motel at the other end of town which had an electric hook-up for us and made us welcome. We then put on our Dinner Duds and had a lovely dinner at Embers: a "Pemmican” Canadian Indian appetizer of bison, made with cranberries, blueberries, herbs, and pistachios, served with green onion Frybread, followed by butter-tender blue-rare Alberta elk tenderloin (me), and lemon and herb marinated Alberta quail (Dan), with excellent (as always) Canadian wines! We LOVE how Canada promotes their own (truly excellent) foods and wines! We found Embers via a recommendation from the nice and very knowledgeable clerk at the Jasper Park Liquor & Beverage Co. on Connaught Drive (the main drag), which specializes in Canadian Wines; I Had to buy us 3 bottles to take home- somehow we'll find a place for them in our packed-like-a-drum truck... :-) We finally did a little souvenir shopping, and I got us a funny moose wine holder and some Canadian maple butter...
Railfanning at the Jasper Train Station...

Is it Milk Duds or Moose Poo??????

Stopping to feed the horses along the way...
Stopping to feed the horses along the way...

First snow!!!!!!

Delicious appetizer at Embers:
Pemmican, Frybread, & Canadian wine

The next morning we had breakfast with a view of the Rockies at Papa Georgesand then headed for Banff, which entails an Amazingly beautiful drive along the Icefield Parkway. The Parkway bills itself as "the most spectacular journey in the world", and it truly lives up to its moniker! Unlike on our drive down, 2 weeks previous, the glaciers were now topped with snow, and even more beautiful! The Rockies are utterly magnificent- almost unreal in their crisp, picture-postcard-perfect beauty, and the snow-capped mountains make everywhere you look seem like a stage-set out of a production of Heidi... you keep expecting to hear yodeling. LOL
Seriously: If you're only going to do one thing in Canada, this is the drive to do! 
Dinner at Embers: Alberta Elk & Quail...

We stopped mid-way at the Icefield Center for "coffee in-coffee out", and I talked Dan into taking the bus tour out to the Columbia Icefields, so we could walk on the Glacier- basically so I could say I did- in heels!  :-) The trip took 1.5 hours, with about half an hour to walk around out on the Glacier, and it was very interesting as well as fun, and we we highly recommend it! There are, of course, longer treks, that would have been wonderful to be able to do, and seeing all the beautiful lodges along the Icefield Parkway with their magnificent views of the mountains and lakes made us both So wish that we had another week to spend so we could have stopped and stayed along the way... I would have LOVED to be able to do watercolors of the amazing landscapes as the light changed hour by hour...
The  Columbia Icefields Glacier!

Elisse on the Glacier- in heels, of course!

Oh, Canada!

The Happy Couple on the Glacier!

On the road again...

Banff is a lovely resort town that's bigger than Jasper- more like Vail, I suppose- and I again wished we'd had a few more days (and a few thousand dollars) to really get to know and enjoy it! We did a little window shopping, and then had a delicious and fun wild game hot-stone fondue dinner at The Grizzly House: they had us at the “caribou” sign! 

Elisse with our Grizzly House wild game fondue!

Dan at the Grizzly House doing hot stone fondue!
A landmark since 1967, it's now a casual-chic foodie restaurant that still tries to retains much of its 60s' vibe: When I asked the waiter if they had WiFi, he said "this the '60s- WiFi hasn't been invented yet!" We had Wild elk and buffalo sausage, served with Saskatoon berries, Dijon mustard, an onion-bacon sauce, cornichons, cocktail onions and bread, for an appetizer, followed by our two wild game platters, which we cooked on a hot stone with seasoned butter: caribou, elk, boar, buffalo, venison, and Alberta beef, along with great Canadian wines! Then Dan and I shared a coffee with Maple Cream & Rum, after which we waddled back to the hotel - the overpriced Maligne Lodgeand spent a pleasant evening drinking more BC wine in the bar! The only downer was the supremely self-righteous, arrogant, and preachy anti-smoking bartender, who literally tried to pick a fight with us, insisting- erroneously- that it is “totally illegal throughout Canada” for a hotel to have a smoking guest room, and demanding (who died and made you King?! LOL) we tell him the name of the smoking hotels we stayed in so he could "report them to the authorities"! Again: are a-holes like this born or created? And how the hell do they wind up in the hospitality business?! (And yes, we tipped, because we're idiots, but we certainly didn't knock ourselves out). We had our Continental Breakfast in the hotel dining room in the morning, and noticed the lovely outdoor patio right outside... which we were about to enjoy, until we saw the sign on the door stating “smoking is not permitted on the patio”; naturally the lovely patio was totally empty. Again: why do a-holes like this go into the hospitality business?! Speaking as someone who has been in hospitality management for the last 11 years, (and who has spent the better part of the last 30 years living in hotels on business), the WHOLE POINT of being in the hospitality business is to be HOSPITABLE- to make ALL your guests feel welcome. AND to make money. And if their lovely outdoor patio had been smoker-friendly we would have stayed longer and ordered more. And had their bar been smoker-friendly we easily would have spent more than twice what we did. As it was, we spent as little as possible and got out of there as fast as we could. To pay money to be made to feel like a criminal or a second-class guest- and get preached at- is not our cup of tea.

Before leaving Banff in the morning, we took in a fine exhibition of old and new railroad art at the Whyte Museum"Picturing the Canadian Pacific Railway," showcasing work inspired by the Canadian Pacific Railway mainline, which went from Calgary to Craigellachie. (This is why I pick up all the little Tourist Magazines along the way... and how our truck developed a carpet 8" thick of layered tourist magazines...)
And the we got on the road for Calgary...

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Sunday, December 22, 2013

"Like" our love story and help us win!

Will my few loyal readers do us a BIG favor? The love story of how Dan and I met (in NY, while working for FEMA during the 9/11 disaster response operation), and how we came to have our B&B in West Virginia, is one of the two Finalists in the Wind & Weather "Share The Love" contest on Facebook!
All you have to do is go to: and you will see it pinned to the top of our page! Just click ON the photo, and "like" it!
Finalist 2 - Elisse Jo Goldstein-Clark and Daniel Hillery Clark  

Note: if you click under it it doesn't count! You must click ON the photo! :-)

Then, if you can use the little "share" button on the bottom of the photo, and ask your friends to please "like" it, too, it would be wonderful! Voting closes Dec,.27, so please hurry!

It is also posted on the Wind & Weather Facebook page: 2 - Elisse Jo Goldstein-Clark and Daniel Hillery Clark 
They have really wonderful garden weather and decor items, and are one of our favorite stores, so please check them out!

The prize is a getaway to Virginia with a romantic hot air balloon ride, and I would REALLY love to win this for Dan and I! We have a Real chance to win this trip IF you all will help!
Thank you!

Monday, December 9, 2013

Oh, Canada: Moose Packin', Haulin' & Hide-Scrapin'!

Day 8: Moose Packin'... Out
As my few intrepid blog readers know, Dan and recently I went moose hunting in British Columbia, Canada, and the preceding post was about me learning to hunt and, finally, getting a moose. J The morning after I got the moose, Joe, our Hunting Guide, whom we'd taken to referring to as "Nazi Joe", (behind his back, of course, as you don't want to piss off your (armed) guide), due to his oft-proclaimed love for the Nazis, managed to damn near destroy our long-planned and saved for "one in a lifetime" hunting holiday in less than 30 seconds. At our late breakfast- no point in getting up early, since Joe proclaimed right after I got the moose that we were not hunting on the last day of our hunt, as we had to deal, instead, with the processing of my moose- my husband- who just got cheated out fo his last day of hunting by this POS- volunteers (as usual…) to not only take our truck to the meat processor so Joe can drive his "non-working properly" truck (which currently has my moose in it) to the repair shop, but to then drive Joe back to camp! So we follow Joe, who is driving his “non-working” truck like a psycho on speed, running stop signs, etc., seemingly in a deliberate attempt to lose us in the rural wilds of Vanderhoof. We get to their meat processor- the one Joe's wife had told me about in our year-long email correspondence, in which I repeatedly asked her for very specific details about the meat processing issue, as I didn't want any surprises- and boy, did we get a surprise. Mrs. Joe had made it all sound easy-peasy, and told us it would cost $1.00/pound. But when we got to Mr. Processor, he flatly informed us that that he couldn't and wouldn't be able to process our meat for at least 5 days- if not longer- as he was just Way too busy- all of a sudden. Moose started rutting two days ago, he explained (tell me about it...), and Everyone was bringing him moose... (On top of which, if he had been willing do do it, he would have charged us $1.25/pound, cash only. And while that extra 25 cents may not sound like much, where you're talking abut an 800 lb. moose, you're talking Money). Joe smirks at the butcher’s assistant, a fat, homely, and sullen girl with a bad hot pink haircut held back with a bobby pin from her big, round face, and says “love your hair”. She stares back at him coldly, blankly, and without a change in her miserable expression. Then Mr. Processor tells us there’s no way for him to ship our meat to the USA. And then that there’s no Plan B, no alternative, no nothing. He thinks we’re from Washington State, and finds it laughingly funny that we have a 10-day drive home to West Virginia towing a freezer, and have to get home in a timely fashion to run a business. By this point I'm civil, but ice cold; I’m not a happy camper, and I have a Very good reason. After both Dan and I ask Mr. Butcher and Joe if there’s anyone else we can go to get our meat processed, Joe mentions 2 other processors who are supposedly "far away" (making it clear he doesn't want to- and has no intention of- going to either one), but won’t give us their names, and the butcher says he doesn't have a phone number for either one (and doesn't even try to get one, or offer to make a call- nothing), and that’s that. So Dan and I both ask again: what are we going to do? I start to smell a racket: this is how they get American hunters to leave them their meat. Interestingly, we’re supposedly having Celine’s moose stew tonight for dinner- frozen from last season- and I can’t help but wonder whose moose was donated for the cause... Mr. Butcher finally says that if Joe and Dan will skin and quarter the moose, we can hook up our freezer to his parking lot outlet, and let the meat freeze solid for a couple of days, and they both agree. (Had it been just me, or me with someone who had no clue how to skin and quarter a moose, or hadn't the sheer, physical strength it takes to do that, I would have been SOL). Joe, of course, has no knives, the butcher offers nothing, and it’s going to be up to DIY Dan- again- to drive all the way back to camp to get our little set of meat knives. It’s bitter cold, so I go inside the butcher shop, and watch Joe and Dan through the window start to wiggle the 300+  pound hindquarters of my moose off the truck. As Mr. Butcher and Miss Pink Hair busy themselves wrapping sausages, I mention how we had wanted to have sausages made, too, and he actually laughs in my face. At this point I will throw my moose meat in a dump if it’s rotting and I have to, but this bunch of uglies aren't getting one piece of it. We were obviously about to fling about $1000 at him, and he obviously couldn't have cared less- I guess business must be Very good in Vanderhoof. I tell him that I understand fully that this mess is not his fault, but that no, I’m not a happy camper, because the outfitter had no Plan B for any of this, and that I had corresponded with Joe's wife about this exact issue for a year. “Who's she?" he asks. At his point Joe barrels in, apologizes to the butcher(!), and bellows at me, as he runs back to the truck, “It’s not his fault!” “I know it’s not his fault, and I told him so!” I said- and was about to say “it’s YOUR fault- and Mike’s”- when he heaves the hind quarters of my moose back into his truck, and, as Dan and I stand there with our mouths open, slams the tailgate shut, yelling “I’m taking it back to camp, I’m gonna skin and quarter it, and then you can do what the hell you want with it!” And then he jumps into his "non-working" truck and takes off like a bat out of hell- all of a sudden his truck is running Just Fine. On the drive back to camp- Joe has disappeared into the wilds- Dan and I try to work out exactly what we will do: Dan, how he will skin and cut up a moose- hopefully before Joe hacks it to pieces in a fit of rage- and both of us, how we will keep it frozen after Dan spends today skinning and quartering and bagging it up- instead of hunting. Hooking our freezer up to their wonky, little generator that blows out every 5 minutes is not an option. So much for Dan’s holiday. L Angry doesn't even Begin to go where I am right now. We've basically decided to get out of here tonight and find a motel, possibly in Vanderhoof, where we can hook up the freezer for a day or two and let the meat freeze solid before heading home- there is no way we want to spend one minute more than is absolutely necessary with a foul-mouthed Nazi lunatic with obvious Anger Management Issues- whom I consider- especially after listening to his stories of hunting murders: the wife and boyfriend who shot the husband square in the chest (“right here” he said, repeatedly, poking at the center of his ribs), went to town and partied for 3 days before reporting him missing and had it ruled an “accident”, and the Mexicans who ‘accidentally’ killed their friend who came back with a deer over his shoulders, shoved his lifeless body in the back of a car, and then went on a drunken binge- to be dangerous. And I Definitely don’t want Dan or I going out hunting with him again- this creep has “hunting accident” written all over him with an indelible Sharpie pen.
When we get back to camp I go into our room and start packing our belongings back into our plastic tubs, while Dan gets our set of meat-cutting knives and goes to the shed where Joe has already hung and started cutting up my moose; Dan, of course, has no fear of Joe at all. My hope is that in his blind rage Joe hasn't destroyed my moose and hacked it to useless pieces- he’s obviously a nut-job of the first stripe, and a 6’2”, foul-mouthed, Nazi-admiring, armed, racist, and scary nut-job, who just had a little 4’9” Jewish (IDF Vet) girl take out a moose at 275 yards with one clean shot to the chest, and he’s obviously Pissed Off Big Time. Because I Really don't want to be anywhere near Nazi Joe, I don't go to the shed to watch Dan skinning and cutting up the moose, which I badly wanted to see and photograph- and help with, if I could. The whole point of this trip was for me to learn to hunt, and I wanted to learn that part of it, too. :-( Dan comes in to tell me that we are stuck here until at least tomorrow, as Joe can’t do our tag paperwork, and we have to wait until Mike gets back- and, inexplicably, no one knows when that might be. Joe is, quite obviously now, very definitely not a “partner” in this screwball business. Dan also tells me that we now have to go into Vanderhoof to buy meat bags and hide salt, as they don't have either one. Celine is sitting in the dark in the kitchen reading her book under the skylight; the generator’s off, and although she turned it on so I could flush the toilet(!), she has now apparently turned it off again, because the lights aren't working and my computer goes dead. I sit there on our cot for about a half hour staring into dark space, as I truly want nothing to do with C- or any of them- at this point, and then I think: “This is NUTS! We have paid them $8500 and I'm sitting here in the freakin’ dark?!” I nicely ask Celine to turn on the generator, explaining that I have nothing to do to kill time except write my blog (hint, hint...), and she does, and I reboot the computer. I ask for a cup of coffee and she tells me they are out of milk, too- as far as she's concerned we're already gone. They have no refrigeration, and their little generator is a tiny joke that cuts out at least 4 times a night, so their food sits either in a plastic chest with a bag of ice or outside (which is currently a balmy 50 degrees)- which is what made me question 3 days of her canned salmon lunch sandwiches; sure enough, Dan got diarrhea from the last one. Both Celine and I are ignoring what’s happened- I will not say a thing unless she brings it up, and she obviously- and wisely- isn't going to. I have pretty much packed us up; waiting for the word from Dan so we can get the hell out of here, hopefully with my moose meat, hides, feet, rack, and cape intact.
Tom, the "go-fer" has just walked in. I am listening through the paper-thin, unfinished walls (as if they are in the same room with me) as Celine tells him that no one has heard from Mike for 5 days; this really is nuts! Seriously- how can you even Think about running a business- not to mention an international tourism business- when you won't contact your employees or clients for a week at a time?! Would I recommend this outfitter? You have Got to be kidding! I hear Celine tell Tom about my one-shot kill, and Tom is ecstatic; when I walk into the kitchen he makes a fuss, congratulates, and hugs me, and basically does what I really needed to be done last night, when I wanted to break out our sparkling Spanish wine from Jasper, share it with the whole gang, and have a celebration. But he’s a day late and a dollar short; I am pleasant but cool as I regale him with the short version of my shooting the moose, and we trade a few comments about hunting adrenaline rushes- how you literally don't feel the gun going off, or flinch, or shut your eyes, even for a second. (Yes, adrenaline is really interesting stuff...) On my way out the door I SO want to turn back and say “and Joe destroyed it all in 10 seconds this morning” and leave them with their mouths open, but I don't. I still have hope that Mike will return and rectify this mess.
Dan and I buy Kosher salt for salting the hides at the Co-Op, meat bags at the one sports store in Vanderhoof that sells them, and a bottle of whisky, which we have a feeling we're going to want later on this evening, and get back from our 4+ hour “run to town” at 7p.m. On the way to town we accidentally find another meat processor- the one Joe insisted was So Far Away that he wouldn't be bothered to even call- or give us the number- but “unhelpful” doesn't Begin to describe the sullen, expressionless woman there, too. (Is this a Vanderhoof Thing, or is it just us? LOL)  No, they won’t process our moose, and no, they don’t have meat bags, and no, she doesn't know where one can buy any, and no, she doesn't know of any other meat processors. We stop at the A&W to have a rather nasty bite to eat- ballast, essentially, as we're unsure if we’ll be having dinner at “camp” or bugging out. I know for a fact that I’m Definitely not sitting at table again with Nazi Joe. The camp’s “driveway” is so badly pitted that even driving our 4WD truck at 1 mph makes our strapped-down 7’ freezer bounce on the truck bed like a rubber ball- and while funny the first time or two, after a solid week of it, wondering if we've damaged the truck or the freezer, it's decidedly less amusing. We return to camp to find that Mike and the couple from Washington have finally returned, but are out hunting- as Dan should be- as all they got during their cold, wet week at "Spike Camp" was hubby’s small bear- really small, judging from the tiny ball of fur outside next to their tarp-covered pile of meat. According to Celine, the wife did not even See a moose, much less get to live out her fantasy of slitting its throat in a river, so methinks she’s Not a happy camper. My gut feeling is that when she saw my 5-point moose rack, sitting next to my two giant moose skin hides, (not to mention the shed full of my hanging moose meat, or the Extremely Disturbing eyeless, hornless moose head which would have been Just Her Ticket…), she put her tiny Cabela’s-shod foot down and demanded to be taken moose hunting Right Now. Psycho Joe is gone- happily- as I hoped he’d be. My moose has been cut up into five pieces (two hind legs, two forelegs, and neck) and is hanging and covered, and Dan managed to get the hides partially scraped. Dan said that Joe calmed down "somewhat" while they were skinning and cutting up the meat, and hadn't deliberately hacked it all to bits as I feared he might, but apologize, or leave me an “I’m sorry- I totally lost it” note, he didn't have the balls to do. Dan shared the stunt Joe pulled this morning at the butcher with Celine, and she acted appropriately aghast- so she’s at least pretending to have the right attitude, if nothing else. We spend a bit of time chatting with her in the kitchen, acting like everything is Just Dandy, and she asks if I’d like French Toast for our last breakfast the next morning. I tell her that it’s lucky Dan had the knowledge, skills, abilities, physical strength, and our set of meat knives and saw, or I’d still be in that field with a now-rotting moose carcass, and she thinks I’m joking and starts to laugh! So I tell her I’m very much NOT joking- and that since she was there, she knows I have a dozen photos proving my point, and she shuts up. It will be interesting to see how Mike- Boss Man- responds to all this, this evening. I sit at our laptop in our room, eating some yummy moose carpaccio Dan brings me J If we’d thought about it, we would have bought capers, parm, and balsamic vinegar in Vanderhoof, and not just another bottle of whisky, but we were kind of focused on the meat bags and getting back to Camp before Psycho Nazi Joe did something Else crazy, and the thought of being able to have a drink that evening was foremost in our minds... Dan brings me a tiny piece of "half-smoke" salmon from the Washington couple, who apparently travel with salmon, as well as beer and hot sauce. Still no moose stew, which I am waiting to try...
Then I hear, through the paper-thin, un-insulated walls, that Joe is back. And chatting to Dan in the dining room like everything is hunky-bunky! Ugh! I steel myself: I’m going to try to let Dan handle this one. I’ll sit here in our room, sip scotch (with dinner at some point, hopefully), and play on the computer, and let Dan do the Guy Thing with Mike and hopefully fix this mess. Not only did Mike write my name wrong on my hunting license, refuse to change it, and make fun of me for being concerned that the name on my license didn't match the one on my passport, saying, with a smirk, that if US Customs gives me a problem at the border I should “tell them to call me”, (and leave a message on his machine which he Might bother returning in 2 weeks?), I have just realized he wrote my birth date wrong, too, and I am now Very concerned about taking the moose meat through Customs at the border. As we booked this hunt over a year ago, and Mike Facebook-messaged me asking for our exact names and birth dates and I responded immediately with both, there’s no excuse; either he’s an incompetent idiot or a crook- and either way he shouldn't be allowed to run an international outfitting company. My hope is that Mike is smart enough- or gets smart fast enough- to at least offer Dan another day or two of hunting (with another guide) to make up for this ugly fiasco. We're more than willing to pay for another day or two of hunting (if he's a prick and wants to charge us), and we're also willing to spend a night or two in a motel in Vanderhoof at our own expense so we can plug our freezer into an electric outlet. For as the chances of us having another opportunity to drive cross-country to go hunting here are infinitesimal, we need to do it Now.
At 8: 42p.m. I hear Joe try to get Dan into another stupid WWII conversation about Nazi atrocities, braying again his respect for the Nazis, and how, again, if they just hadn't been in a rush they would have won, and for me that’s the last, stinking straw. I call Dan into our bedroom (“Honey- when you get a minute. I need to speak to you…”), and put my foot down. Either he deal with that piece of walking Nazi excrement- and Mike- right now, or I will- and it won't be pleasant. I’ll be damned if I- who shot the only thing with bragging rights this week- am going to sit alone, holed-up in our bedroom, because I don’t want to be in Nazi Joe’s stinking, fetid presence. The whole idiot band is now back and yukking it up in the dining room full-volume, right outside my door; Joe should have Long crawled back into his cockroach hole with the darling wife he claimed to have been away from too long- or at least be in his room with the door shut- and Mike is the one who needs to send him to his room. After what he pulled this morning, why he is even Here tonight is beyond both of us. I warned Dan- with tears running down my face as I slammed my sunglasses across the room and shattered them- that he’d better do something fast, because if I go out there I will give a little speech that will leave them all with their jaws down around their ankles. Tonight was the night for Mike to make amends for Joe’s fiasco and make it up to Dan and I, and it's not happening; he obviously thinks he’s 10 feet tall and bullet-proof, and doesn't give a shit. At 10:26p.m. Dan comes in our room to tell me that he took Mike aside and told him the whole story, and that Mike professed to be “appalled”, but it’s obviously a lie; he not only isn't doing a damn thing about it, he and Nazi Boy are Still sitting at the dining room table right outside our bedroom yukking it up. And no, Dan can’t stay and hunt for a day or two to make up for this ugly fiasco and being screwed out of a day’s hunting, because they have a whole new bunch of hunters coming in; Mike is, however, taking the other couple hunting in the morning to try to placate the wife who didn't see a moose all week. Dan is now furious:  he’s stunned that Mike didn't even come in to speak to me, much less apologize, and he wants out of here now even more than I do. While Dan is packing the meat and hides into our freezer and loading our truck, Mike is laughing louder and louder at his own jokes right outside our room to make Sure I get the message and know how much contempt he holds us in. And get the message I do-and so will the BC Hunting License Authority. It is now pouring rain and 50 degrees; apparently Mother Nature didn't listen to genius Celine: “the meat will be fine- there’s no humidity”. The only saving grace of this entire fiasco is the moose meat, and we need to get out of here and get to a motel where we can connect the freezer to an electric outlet ASAP so we don’t lose it. Lorne, the kid trainee guide, comes into our room to help carry out the last of our cases and actually congratulates me on my great shot with a big, shit-eating grin. That’s the last freaking straw, and I go off on the poor sod and succinctly tell him- loud enough for Mike, et al to clearly hear- how Nazi Joe essentially destroyed our once-in-a-lifetime, year-long-planned hunting holiday in 10 seconds flat that morning. His eyes go wide like saucers, and it’s patently obvious he’s a clueless nit and that 99% of what I am saying is whizzing right past him at 100 mph; he’s def not the sharpest knife in the outfitting drawer. I have written a letter to Mike, but Dan convinces me not to leave it. We leave, instead, $20 Canadian on the table with a note: “thanks for the cigarettes”. It continues to amaze us both how none of them were the Slightest bit interested in getting a tip from us- and we were prepared to drop Lots of money on both Joe and Celine, as one normally would. As I walk out of our room and towards the door no one says a word, and as I go out the door Celine says to me “Are you coming back in?” Not “goodbye”, or “I’m so sorry”, or anything a normal person in the hospitality business might say. I say “I don’t think so, but I’m not sure”. “Safe travels” she says. “You, too” I say. It’s now clear she’s either a POS who thinks Joe & Mike’s treatment of us is appropriate, or she’s their pitiful slave. She told us a number of things this week, including how she sold a huge tract of her land to Mike, and as she sits in the dark in the cabin all day rather than turn on the generator, I have the distinct feeling she’s beholden to him. And then Dan and I triple-check the truck to (hopefully) make sure we have everything (we leave behind the ghastly eyeless, hornless moose head, and accidentally forget our excellent bottle of mango hot sauce that we bought at the winery), and begin to slowly drive down their I-so-wish-I had-a-Deuce-And-A-Half, pitted, mud-soup “driveway” from hell towards Vanderhoof in the wet dark. Never did get a plate of that moose stew, much less Celine’s vaunted French Toast. LOL
We check into a motel in Vanderhoof, hook up our freezer to their outlet, pour ourselves shots of Scotch, and happily crawl between crisp, clean, white sheets, feeling like 1000 pounds has been lifted off our shoulders. But I do not sleep well. The whole ugly mess keeps replaying itself in my head, and I toss and turn all night, waking up repeatedly from “the Rolodex” as I call it, and disturbing dreams, one of which has people stealing our suitcases out of the truck; I wake Dan up to ask if he’s locked the truck, which, of course, he has… I finally give up, get up, and boot up the Nexus...

Days 9: Moose Haulin' - Prince George
We stop for breakfast and coffee on Highway 16, and the waitresses go Totally Bananas over my pink-trimmed, rhinestone-encrusted, and Hello-Kitty festooned Real Tree handbag, wanting to know where I got it, and we share shopping, handbag design, and eBay stories. J As we drive towards Prince George, about half-way there (30 minutes out of Vanderhoof), we see a billboard advertising bison for sale, and think: what the hell- let’s throw some bison in the freezer, too! Dan turns the truck around and we see that Chilako Meats also offers meat processing (more proof of Joe being a lying sack of shit), and the gate is open, so we pull in, and although the sign on the door says “Closed”, as we turn the truck around and pull up to the building we see a nice, smiling man in the window. I lean out and say “I know it’s Sunday, but we were hoping you were open…” and he says “what do you have?”, and I say “a moose”, and he says “come on in”, and the next thing you know Dan is standing in our freezer helping to hook my moose’s giant hams and forelegs to Mr. Butcher’s meat hooks (450 lbs. at $0.89/lb., double-wrapped), and our Really Nice Butcher, his two, happy, laughing, girl assistants working away in the back room, is arranging to cut up our moose tomorrow (“I’m waiting on a 900 lb. moose and a bear today, but they’re local and I can push you to the front because you’re in a hurry…”), and have it ready for us to pick up in 2 days! J
Dan in the freezer, haulin' moose...

Weighin' moose...

Elisse, 450 lbs. of moose on the scale, and our processor guy!
We work out with him how he should cut up the meat (tenderloins, roasts, ground meat, etc.), and he sends us off to the very nice Bon Voyage Inn in Prince George, where we get ourselves happily situated and enjoy a pleasant lunch at the motel’s restaurant- a Greek-Chinese Fusion Diner. LOL
I had shrimp won ton soup and pan-fried Chinese dumplings (a nice change from Celine's Fine Dining...), and Dan had the Canadian version of a Reuben, which was nice, but not a Reuben. LOL
In the evening we got All Gussied Up to go out for a fine dinner; I badly wanted to wear Dan's skinning knife on my Michael Kors belt as a Glunting (Glam Hunting) Fashion Statement, but Dan, afraid I'd get arrested, talked me out of it. LOL
Elisse, All Gussied Up...
He cleans up nice, right? :-)
Downtown Prince George was full of lovely places to dine, and we had a delicious dinner sitting at the elegant bar of TheTwisted Cork (my Canadian duck in a maple sauce, and Dan’s bison pot pie, with excellent BC Canadian wines). The really nice actor-bartender took our photo with his phone and emailed it to us, and then suggested another great restaurant for tomorrow's dinner! Happily surprised to find so many fine restaurants in this small town!

Day 10: Hide Heaven!
As I wrote this post, Dan was scraping Moose Hide Number One in front of our Bon Voyage Inn motel room, chatting with a guest who once did horse-pack guided hunts in the high mountains of eastern BC, and periodically feeding moose fat scraps to two very friendly and grateful doggies belonging to other motel guests. I thought it was amazing/hilarious to see Hunter Dan scraping moose hides in a motel parking lot, but this is apparently normal in BC- no one so much as batted an eye! After he scraped them clean, he rolled them in wax paper and put them back in the freezer, along with the 4 moose feet and all the meat; we'll figure out what we want to do with them when we get home. (I think the moose feet should become chair feet- a novel twist on "ball and claw", as it were. LOL). The truck is now packed like a drum, my moose's antlers topping all the suitcases and plastic tubs- there literally isn't room for One More Thing! LOL
Dan, scraping hides...

We learn that the bit of noise I heard in the wee hours was a fiasco in the parking lot that ensued when another hunter guest found his 2 giant moose back legs (twice the size of mine, judging by the rack) had been dragged off the top of his truck and eaten by dogs in the night… (It never occurred to me before, but “Please secure your game properly, as Management is not responsible for legs being dragged off your vehicle by dogs in the night” may be something we want to consider adding to our guest “rules” at the Elkhorn Inn…) While Dan scraped hides, I sat at the computer sipping Scotch and Googling “how to tan a moose hide in a motel parking lot” and "salting hides 101". LOL We then "cleaned up nice" and had another truly great dinner (with beverage selectiona from their absinthe menu!), at the fun, upscale BBQ place The Copper Pig, recommended to us by the bartender at the Twisted Cork!
At The Copper Pig, Prince George, BC
The next morning we picked up our moose meat at the processor: $504, exactly what I had budgeted- and found all the beautifully wrapped packages of meat almost totally filled our freezer! We are definitely going to be eating moose for a year! :-) Don’t know what we would have done had we bought a smaller freezer (I truly thought Dan was going overboard, insisting we needed a 7-foot freezer...), or if Dan had gotten the moose he should have; we certainly wouldn't have been able to take back the hides… We added a buffalo back strap (filet mignon), 4 packs of assorted buffalo sausages, and some yummy buffalo pepperoni for the road, and hit the trail for Jasper…

Next: Jasper and Banff, & Walking on a Glacier!