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Wednesday, May 30, 2018

Traveling Cowboys: It is Summer 2018 and Waterton is Open for Business Again in Alberta, Canada

Now More Than Ever


Waterton is a place dear to our hearts. Its scenery is breathtakingly beautiful. But, we are most fond of its people. Waterton is open for business in 2018!

The tiny seasonal village adopted us, the Two Cowboys, as their own. From our start in 2016, they gave us an opportunity to showcase their natural beauty, the variety of food and intrigue, to the world. We cannot start a Summer in Canada without our annual visit to Waterton. This is our fourth year.


Open for Business!



Waterton After the Fire


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At the end of May, the snow melted, and the remaining trees were green. The flowers were out all over Waterton's grasslands, and in the town, the baskets were in bloom. We made our way to our favourite camping spot unsure of what 2018 will hold for the destination. During the last couple of years, we've worked with Waterton to promote the town, the destination and its businesses.

This year we were even more committed than usual to show the world a little of our Spring paradise, because of the recent Kenow fire. The disaster destroyed a lot of the natural attraction of Waterton in 2017. The good news was that the village was saved, except for the Parks Canada Information Centre (which was slated to be moved anyway), and nobody got hurt. We found Waterton open for business.

At the townsite, many of the faithful pilgrims returned to pick up the pieces after the disaster, with the hope to continue where they left off, before the fire. The big question on everyone's mind this year was if Waterton would recover from the incident. Will the visitors return and will patrons again come to enjoy the beauty and the people of the community?

Observations


With every significant and sudden change in people's lives, such as what happened in Waterton, there is a sense of loss. However, such a move also provides ample opportunity for reflection and renewal. Some may regard the event of a massive forest fire in Waterton as a disaster and a loss. We make the case that it need not be the case.

It is not a loss for nature. Instead, it only a step in the continues cycle of renewal. It's a natural cycle that been playing itself out in the forests and on prairies of Canada, over and over for millennia. It will continue to do so long after humanity left the planet. Waterton's forests and animals didn't lose something. It gained necessary renewal.

The question that remains is if the event will translate into a loss for the town and its businesses. Will tourism return in 2018 like before and will the businesses suffer if they don't? People will be aware that what they came to expect from Waterton's Park landscape is no longer there. Instead, there is something different, and equally spectacular, or will they drive by towards the other natural attractions of the Province?

The opportunity now, for the visitors to the Park is to discover this natural process of renewal and experience the unique ways that trees recover, new flowers blossom and animals return to a rebirth of a region.

With it, the businesses in the town have an opportunity to renew and refresh. The tourists are unlikely to return to previous numbers in the near term. It will put pressure on revenue and force a rethink for a complacent few that got too accustomed to the visiting masses. For others, it will open opportunities to try something new, upgrade, or for new businesses to step in where some may decide to throw in the towel.

Waterton's businesses and its people are as much an attraction for the destination as its natural beauty. They are all given a chance to renew, rebuild, attract and grow. The ones that take this chance will be the folks who prevail and flourish and who we will promote in years to come. Those are the people you will find in Waterton this, the next and the years thereafter.

We are glad that Waterton is once again open for business.

Hendrik van Wyk
Waterton Cowboy

We earn our livelihood by producing great content and supporting inspiring people, businesses, and communities. Please book us here so we can tell your story too. If you want to see us do more of these, then please forward the favour. We will use it for the next episode promoting a local business or event.


Photos


On the Water of Waterton

Majestic!

Waffletons

Renewal

The Locals

Sunday, May 27, 2018

Traveling Cowboys: Traveling in Style and Getting Our Espresso Fix on the Road with a Rocket R58

Good Coffee on the Road


It is incredible to realize just how bad coffee can be on the road. Some establishments give themselves out as coffee shops that should rather stay away from espresso machines.

We only feature positive stories, and we have to confess that it is difficult to find positive espresso coffee stories on our travels. 


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The real gems are when we find a lost master barista operating a hole in the wall espresso stand, for a few discerning customers. We wish there were more of them in the world. They are the morning coffee heroes that should be celebrated. In their absence, we had to make our own plans.

We invested in a Rocket R58 Espresso Machine, a little Rancilio grinder and fresh beans as we travel. Now we can make our own coffee on the road when we cannot find a good local spot with a barista in the know.

Observations


The biggest challenge with espresso on the road has enough electricity to operate a higher-end espresso machine. The Rocket works with 110V power, which makes it ideal for mobile operations. It has a little water tank that we fill as we go. It is a heavy machine, so we had to be sure that we have the right spot for it. You are not going to unpack it every time you use it. It needs a special place in our rig.

We've found our coffee solution for when we can not find good coffee in the destinations of our travels. Tell us about your favourite coffee spots, and we may just pay them a visit when we pass through.

Hendrik van Wyk
Rocket Cowboy

We earn our livelihood by producing great content and supporting inspiring people, businesses, and communities. Please book us here so we can tell your story too. If you want to see us do more of these, then please forward the favour. We will use it for the next episode promoting a local business or event.

Photos

Mobile Espresso

Hole in the Wall

Rocket

Setup

Good Coffee

Wednesday, May 23, 2018

Two Cowboys: Smoking Prime Rib and Learning to Line Dance at Lynnwood Ranch Feast and Frolic, Aldersyde, Alberta

Ten Times Better


Some things get better with time. For others, you come back time and again because they cannot get any better. One good example is the succulent, flavourful, smokey, savoury, buttery, melt-in-your-mouth, prime rib that Gus Leduc of Lynnwood Ranch perfected over the many years that we've known him.

It made us wonder why the BBQ people from the Canadian BBQ Society, of which we are dues paying members, go through all the effort to make brisket and pork butt palatable, while there are better cuts to cook, like Alberta Beef prime rib? 



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Don't get us wrong. There is mastery required in every cooking challenge and some like it more desperate than others. To make a piece of leather taste like bone marrow takes talent and decades of dedication to perfect the method. We are reminded by the BBQ fraternity, every time we call them out on choosing the tougher meats for their well-seasoned smokers, that there is no challenge in using the more exceptional cuts.

We beg to differ.

A well-respected butcher in New Zealand once deboned a well-aged lamb shoulder for us. As he handed over the cut, he asked how we planned to cook it. Without listening to our reply, he interrupted with a strong word of caution. This is what he had to say: "Son, remember God made it perfect. Don't you go f*&ck it up now."
It is sometimes harder to not mess up an excellent piece of meat than it is to make anything taste like something. Ask any red seal chef. He knows what we are on about!

Whenever I savour Gus Leduc's perfectly cooked, seasoned, and melt-in-your-mouth buttery prime rib (yes, I know this sounds lyrical), I remember the sage's advice. God made it perfect. However, I am convinced that Gus makes it better.

Observations


If you ever, ever get a chance to have a meal at Lynnwood Ranch, then jump at the opportunity. It doesn't matter if it is for Ducks Unlimited, Rebels Without a Cause, Lions Breathe, Breast Cancer, Proctologists Unite or SmokinQ. Find a reason to have Gus' prime rib dinner. It is one for the bucket list. Your maker will be pleased.

P.S. Time is running out. Gus and Wendy are not getting any younger. Grab the chance and tell them the Two Cowboys sent you.

Hendrik van Wyk
Prime Rib Cowboy

We earn our livelihood by producing great content and supporting inspiring people, businesses, and communities. Please book us here so we can tell your story too. If you want to see us do more of these, then please forward the favour. We will use it for the next episode promoting a local business or event.


Photos

Perfection 
A Legend



A Master

A Disciple

A Man With A Beard


Traveling Cowboys: Hot Sauce and Dirty Poutine on the Alberta Prairie with Motoburrito, Turner Valley, Alberta

Travel is a Drug


Travelling is not a vacation. For a start, you don't always know where you are going and what you will be doing, seeing, who you will be meeting and how you will be experiencing. The unpredictability of travel turns it into a must-have drug for some, and a terrifying prospect for others.

We are self-confessed travel-junkies. We continuously hear the siren call of the open road. A week in a place is sometimes too long. We don't know where we will be next week or next month. All we know is that we won't be here anymore. We've sold our soul to unpredictability, opened our hearts to adventure and we are ready to be surprised by the fantastic people we will meet and the places we will explore on our journey.


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We don't like the world traveller, even if it is part of our name - the Traveling Cowboys. The word wanderer has more appeal.

The urban dictionary defines wanderer as someone that travels aimlessly. In contrast to wandering, some people are in a place for life, or at least for a predictable time. They are comfortable with intimately knowing their surroundings and familiar with everyone around them. Every day, month and season have predictability and a routine for them. They have goals like graduating, getting married, having children, building a house and ultimately retiring wealthy with lots of grandchildren.

The Wanderer is out place. I will contend that his or her travel is anything but aimless. Instead, it is a journey of wonder. Far from leaving or moving away from the familiar, the wonderer is drawn by the adventure of the unfamiliar. Some prefer a particular style of surprise, through the window of an RV, with a backpack, continent-hopping or Couchsurfing. Everyone has their favourite destinations. Alaska, Mexico, New Zealand, South Africa, bush or city. However, all travellers have one thing in universal - absolute awe for the grandeur of the world around them!

Wanderers cannot get enough. The world is too big to explore in one lifetime. The more you do it, the more addicted you get to doing it.

On one's journey, you inevitably make friends with fellow travellers. We've made friends with Claudette and her team at Motoburrito in Turner Valley, Alberta, Canada. When Spring breaks on the prairie, they return like swallows from their travels, for a short three months, to serve the most delicious Mexican food from their food trailer. It is their way of financing their next journey and a surefire way to lure us back each year to catch-up, hear about the last trip, and find out what the plans are for the next.

Observations


Claudette introduced us to her homemade hot sauce. She finally revealed the secret to why a Dirty Poutine and a Taco at Motoburrito taste so much better than from any other attempt we've sampled. The secret is in the sauce. It is absolutely delicious. Kids have to be warned. This one is for adults only. It has a kick to it that will make you wish for ice cream in the morning.

Claudette's hot sauce is like the travel drug. Once you've tasted it, you want more. Once you have more, you are hooked and scheduled for an annual pilgrimage back to Turner Valley. We usually cannot wait for our next taco and poutine at Motoburrito and is always on the lookout for an excuse to do the next one. Apparently, they also do a Dirty Sanchez Burrito. I will let Claudette tell you more about that one...

Hendrik van Wyk
Wondering Cowboy

We earn our livelihood by producing great content and supporting inspiring people, businesses, and communities. Please book us here so we can tell your story too. If you want to see us do more of these, then please forward the favour. We will use it for the next episode promoting a local business or event.


Photos


Muchos Soldados! 
Biker Stampede

That Hot Sauce!

Taco Ladies!

Tacos

Poutinos

Cheesy

More Cheesy!

Tuesday, May 8, 2018

Traveling Cowboys: Small Plates and Big Flavour at the Grande Brunch of Uncorked 2018 in Canmore, Alberta

Nine in a Row


For a town of fourteen thousand people, Canmore has so many restaurant choices that even if we eat at a different one every day, for a month, we still won't be able to try them all.

That is why we love our annual appointment with Andrew Nickerson and his team at Canmore's Uncorked Food Festival. The festival makes it easier to discover and enjoy the best Canmore's dining scene offers - restaurants we didn't know existed and dishes we haven't tried before. When we say the best, we don't only mean the food. We also suggest the people committed to promoting this great destination for culinary's sake. We applaud their effort.




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It is our third year of involvement in the event. Spring is always a great time in the mountains. The Uncorked food festival seals the deal for a visit and an appointment with this lovely destination.

Canmore Uncorked is a multiple award-winning food festival that returns each May for eleven days of remarkable dining experiences. It is the opportunity for restaurants of the town to showcase what they have to offer and to entice diners to try something new. For patrons, it is a flavour gauntlet that stretches the imagination and the waistlines. It is a must-do!

One way we make the most of the experience is to attend the Grande Brunch. Nine restaurants come together in one location to offer delicious taster morsels. The newly opened Grande Kitchen and Bar hosted the event this year which took place the first Sunday of the festival.

We tried everything, which proved to be an overly ambitious task. The portions were just enough to entice us to do another visit at participating restaurants. Together, it made for an amazingly delicious and very fulfilling meal.

Observations


Food festivals are for patrons. Patrons come with friends to celebrate, eat, explore, experience, meet and have fun with plates of food, mugs of beer, and glasses of wine. It is a familiar promotional drawcard used by destinations to entice new customers to visit and discover more about local businesses partaking in the celebrations.

Vendors are given an opportunity to reach new customers, fill their restaurants and move their products. It is a great marketing opportunity - when done right. The organizers of food festivals have the delicate balancing act of assuring there is enough variety, volume and value for attendees to make it worthwhile attending, and for participating businesses and the destination to see a return in the short and longer term.

Here in lies the crux of a successful food festival. Participating businesses and the destination, as a whole, must go all-out or risk being relegated to just another irrelevant mee-too food event of which there are far too many already. Businesses should make the most of the chance and strive to out-do each another. Not just each other in town, but other festivals, elsewhere.

We all know that with the demise of Canmore's destination marketing organization the Canmore Uncorked festival was left on shaky ground. Cudos to Andrew and his team for seeing it through and keeping the festival going. Unfortunately, herein lies the problem. We are of the opinion that Canmore's establishments overall are still not getting that this is their opportunity. It should not be just an event that continues. It should be the pinnacle food event in the Rocky Mountains!

In 2018, a few die-hard businesses and some newcomers remain committed to the festival's success, and they are reaping some of the potential rewards. Unfortunately, the vast majority of Canmore's food scene remains missing in action, and as a result, the town risks losing the opportunity.

It is no longer the "great" festival it once was. A celebration is not, and should not be for immediate profit or gain. If it was, it would be called a market. A longer perspective and commitment should prevail. The festival is there for the purpose of building marketing and promotional momentum for the times of the year when there isn't a festival. Profit follows from this momentum, and the awareness, excitement and the discovery drawcard it lit in customers. Participating businesses should commit their resources to building momentum like they would have done through any other marketing or promotional effort.

Canmore should be lucky to still have Uncorked. We hope to see it grow again to the grand festival it was once before. Andrew has our commitment and our vote to make it work. Now, all we need is for more of Canmore's food establishments to realize that this is their opportunity and get behind it. We are hopeful that it will happen before it is too late.

Hendrik van Wyk
Uncorked Cowboy

We earn our livelihood by producing great content and supporting inspiring people, businesses, and communities. Please book us here so we can tell your story too. If you want to see us do more of these, then please forward the favour. We will use it for the next episode promoting a local business or event.


Photos


Yum, Yum!

Benedict

Andrew

Cupcakes

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