After concluding our work in Quito, we traveled by bus for a brief tourist visit to the Cotopaxi area. Much of the two hour drive was on a rough cobblestone road, through beautiful farm country.
We stayed at The Secret Garden Cotopaxi, a truly unique hostel/paradise overlooking several volcanoes. Gorgeous flowers and adorable llamas abound. When we arrived, we learned that a baby llama had been born there just that day!
After settling in and having a delicious chickpea and rice lunch, most of our group headed out for a guided waterfall hike. We divided into two groups: the “fun/hard” hike (mostly hiking through a small river to the waterfalls) and the “easy” hike (mostly hiking on land to the waterfalls). I of course opted for the “easy” hike, which honestly wasn’t that easy for me. We still had to hike through part of the river, and there was some steep and slippery hiking on land. With the altitude, all of this was rather challenging for me, but the experience was awesome.
All meals are included when you stay at the Secret Garden, and nearly everything is vegetarian and grown in their substantial gardens. I failed to take any photos of my delicious meals and snacks, but the Secret Garden folks did an amazing job accommodating my vegan and gluten-free dietary restrictions.
Fish Creek Falls is a short waterfall hike in Steamboat Springs, Colorado. We didn’t have much time to linger there, but this area seemed to be a very popular picnic destination.
New Brunswick is probably best known for its coast along the Bay of Fundy (the bay between New Brunswick and Nova Scotia, famous for having the highest tidal range in the world). The Hopewell Rocks is one of the most popular spots to take in the wonders of the Bay of Fundy. And you can enjoy lots of pretty views like the one below as you drive along the Fundy coast.
But as we planned a road trip from Halifax to Quebec, we wondered if there was anything interesting to see inland in western New Brunswick. It turns out that there are a lot of neat old covered bridges in New Brunswick, and the longest covered bridge in the world (391 meters long!) is in Hartland. The Hartland Bridge was built in 1901 and although it is only one lane wide, traffic still flows pretty steadily across it. The 111th anniversary of the bridge is also featured as the Google Doodle today!
After stopping in Hartland, we continued on to Grand Falls, a town known for its impressive waterfall and gorge, as well as potato farming and processing. The waterfall at Grand Falls is apparently the largest waterfall east of Niagara Falls, with a drop of 23 meters. There are several nice hiking trails around the gorge, and opportunities for zip lining across the gorge! We were feeling mellow and just strolled along the hiking trails a bit.
Finding a decent dinner in small towns like Grand Falls can sometimes be challenging for folks like me with several dietary restrictions. Luckily, Pizza Delight, a common Canadian franchise, offers pizza with gluten-free crust! Top that with tomato sauce and lots of veggies (and no cheese), and I’ve got a great meal!