Urban Walk: Oceanside discovery

We tend to get a lot of rain leading up to Christmas, and beyond. Which is fine by me as I really do not enjoy snow and the cold. However, rain usually means no lovely Oceanside walks. Today was shaping to be the one day of the week the sun might make an appearance and I was not about to waste it!

My first stop before heading to town was for a coffee – no real (lactose free) milk for my morning cup was not going to put my in a bad mood. We have a Starbucks barely a five minute walk away. I drove, parked, went inside and ordered a flat white. A lovely drink for my roughly 30 minute drive. I collected my sister and off we went. Today she was able to go farther after a nasty fall a week ago – going for a walk with me. We decided to tackle the longer board and cement walk along the water.

We both made sure to use the treads on the boardwalk sections! The ocean crashing on the shore churned up quite a wake. However, the weather held to present us with glimpses of sunshine. And then a glint flashed off the bushes ahead of us. Someone had decorated the various bushes for all to enjoy!

All we need was a bench to sit down and enjoy
Like shiny, plump plums!
An invitation to all. I have a great school bell – will you ring in the magic on the 24th?
Kitten has lost her mittens? A kind soul tacked these to a lamp post.

Maybe ‘[she] found her mittens’. I was very tempted to claim them for me! However, that would have been a very Scrooge move, or for those who are younger than me, the Grinch, before they both grew hearts.

After a round trip walk of about six kilometres (part way back my sister informed me she had been ready to turn around much sooner) we went grocery shopping (for my sister and one of my daughters). I feel a bit like an elf.

Victoria to Ontario May – Aug/19: finding activities

In the hope I will indeed be in Ontario for 2 1/2 months I decided to start to write about my preparations. In my previous blog I mentioned I want to begin doing a YouTube channel. Which was a lofty goal. Also a mighty fail. That was my packing video. The video I was so confident I would have on my channel that I deleted it from my phone. So much for screen shots to enhance my blog. (Not that I have mastered that yet)

Onward. As I am working at this being a one shoestring budget trip I am always happy when an activity I might be interested in, at minimal cost, turns up. My daughter in Kitchener, who will be here rather than there, told me about an opportunity she would love to attend on June 9th. But, she will be here, not there. It is a tour of the Buddhist Temple in Bethany, near Peterborough ON.

Artist’s rendition of the temple. It is not yet completed.

A significant chance for my daughter to possibly meet some of the people involved, but she will be here, not there. So I offered to call the number to get more information and see if I can go instead. I would not be doing any research per se (oh, did I forget to mention that this temple is the one my daughter is doing her thesis on? So, significant!) but I can listen, take any written information and of course take pictures. I may even dare to chance a video. The only difficulty will be getting there and back to Kitchener all in one day.

I spoke on the to the ‘local ambassador’ for the temple, a role she has had for twelve years, when I explained my interest she provided some information on upcoming events, names of contacts, and her email address to pass to my daughter, and pencilled me in for the noon tour after providing some suggestions for getting there.

It sounds like the only stumbling block will be getting from the Peterborough GO Station (all these names & transportation mean very little to me) to Bethany – or maybe it is Manvers. Visitors are to meet at a tea room where, I think, we will be driven to the temple site.

I am thrilled to be able to consider this as I did not have time to visit the Cham Shan Temple in Niagara Falls where my daughter did her MA research. There is a chance I can also go at a later date in the summer with my daughter; however, it would most likely be research based for her. I think there is enough time to get it all sorted and it will mean a little solo adventure for me. Of course I will take my pandas.

Mini-Adventure: tourism at home

Despite several attempts to blog about various topics that sort of include travel my activity could indicate I fell off the face of the Earth. I finally threw in the towel and admitted that without a destination to talk about I have very little to offer that might have a modicum interest to readers. The last couple of months have been tough. It was just as well I did not make any trips. I would love to say I have finally bounced back. I am maybe at half bounce. Definitely not feeling like Tigger. However, I did make the effort to actually do something interesting on Family Day! On my own.

Eight of Canada’s provinces have a Family Day, or a holiday equivalent, on the third Monday of February. Only Quebec, Newfoundland and the three territories do not. Sort of a way to encourage getting out with the family and enjoying our gloomy winter. Living in Victoria this usually means enjoying the cherry blossoms, pleasant walks on the waterfront, cycling, kayaking, walks in the park, golf (not me) and even hiking. Not this year. We had snow! Lots of it, so much that we broke some records for snowfall in February. It was, and still, also below seasonal temperatures. We Victorians are not made for the cold. I usually leave all my winter clothing in Ontario, so glad I had expected to need it for my still in the plans trip to Churchill. I digress. Family Day.

I decided I could do a mini-adventure if I did not have to pay for anything. That meant taking advantage of free entry to two places. The Robert Bateman Centre, that I had been wanting to visit ever since it opened, and the Royal B.C. Museum’s exhibit: Wildlife Photographer of the Year. All I had to consider was a cup of coffee, which I really did not need, and lunch. Aha, I had some money on a Tim Horton’s card, gift from our landlady(!) for my coffee and rewards on Starbucks for my lunch. That is not cheating when it comes to not spending money as my daughter puts money on the card. (I am so lucky!) Although parking was also free I parked at another daughter’s, handed her the keys for her to load up her laundry, (too bad she does not pay for our hydro) telling her I would return in a couple of hours.

The sun was out, people were smiling, a jaunt in my step, was spring finally in the air? It was that afternoon. There was even a piper somewhere in the distance – I could hear him but did not see anyone. Most likely at the Legislature where visitors were lined up for a free visit. Note: visiting is always free (although that should be confirmed before heading there) My first stop was to the Robert Bateman Centre, housed where Victoria’s very popular Royal London Wax Museum welcomed visitors from 1961 to 2010. The building was built in 1924 as the Canadian Pacific Marine Terminal. Although there was concern the building could not be saved once all the was figures left the building (yes, Elvis was represented) extensive earthquake proofing and upgrades were made before becoming the much gentler on the psyche art centre.

Robert Bateman is a well known Canadian artist whose main focus is of wildlife. His numbered prints run at $750.00 and up – well worth it if one can not afford the original. Sadly, I will only be able to look at my photos and perhaps buy a calendar one of these years. What I found amazing is that photos were not discouraged, just not flash. Wonderful, such works need to be shared. It took a bit of sleuthing to find the entrance, seems the restaurant management on the main floor hopes to entice visitors to have a meal first, or after, visiting the gallery. For those less inclined to a fell, sit down meal, there is also a small Starbucks. More on that after.

Heritage – Bald Eagle (2010)

One of the first paintings at the centre; so apt considering the winter we have been hit with.

Eagles and tree stumps are the sad story of progress. Too many nesting trees lost. Seeing an aerie of eagles flying high above where trees once stood is rather heartbreaking.

By the Tracks – Killdeer (1971)

Although not a painting of railway ties in Victoria this fading effect is evocative of our silenced tracks.

High Kingdom – Snow Leopard (1986)

Like all cats this one looks so innocent in repose! an excellent capture in paint.

Gentoo Penguins and Whale Bones (1979)

Robert Bateman has been to Antarctica an enviable five times! I am a sucker for penguins.

This majestic painting was hidden away in a side room, used for classes I believe, no title – not that it needs one. I took several shots at various angles. This was my first, and my favourite. Such disdain in those eyes.

There were several others but these were my favourites. I felt fortunate that, although there were several visitors, including children, I could take my time to enjoy the artistry before descending the stairs in search of lunch. I discovered that the Starbucks in the building does not have much of a selection. My guess is that to share the space with the restaurant they keep the choices to a minimum, choosing instead to concentrate on coffee sales. They were certainly doing a brisk business. Fortunately I was not yet famished and did know where to find another Starbucks.

Before seeking lunch I still had the RBCM to look forward to. I was not too surprised to see the place teeming with families. However, I was quite taken aback by the sheer number of children tagging along with parents to view the photography exhibit. It was so busy it was nearly impossible to see the works yet alone enjoy them. I was happy to have turned left to see the winning picture from the under ten years old category. Sadly, not photographs are allowed. The young boy, I believe in India, saw some owlets flying towards a drainpipe, asked his father to stop the car, and managed to capture these tiny birds cuddled together in the entrance. It was enchanting. My attempts to view much more were thwarted by the crowds of people who all seemed to be taller than me! (Except the children who were with tall adults) I gave up and exited without visiting the galleries I have seen many times but never tire of. I highly recommend visiting. Perhaps not on a free day.

I came across this construction site across from the legislature – I will not be surprised if the lowest price is not below $1 million. The sign is rather in your face.

I believe this is new government offices. On the far side there is a much needed, new library. Until it was built that area of Victoria did not have a library.

I walked back towards where my daughter lives, stopping first at the Starbucks close to her place to have a relatively quiet lunch in a comfortable chair – a few of the stores still have those. There I met an elderly woman struggling with keeping her drink upright in the basket of her walker. After helping her I ended up chatting about a variety of things, nothing extraordinary just a pleasant time for two strangers to appreciate the afternoon and a quarter hour of unity. It was a pleasant end to a very short adventure and a reminder to enjoy what is in my backyard.

Churchill Manitoba: take 2

I was quietly cheering to myself the other day when I heard that the rail link from Winnipeg to Churchill MB was finally open again. The politicians were on hand to welcome the engine – except it seems they were not as the train rocked in the evening before. I found that might sum up how I expect Churchill will be once I finally make it there. Suddenly there with no fuss. I do not know why I think this.

As soon as I heard that passenger trains should be running in the spring of 2019 I started to once again do some research for a visit. I had originally planned to go in July 2017, booked a hostel and a walking tour. At the time it was thought the closure would be temporary. Eighteen months later -sold to the consortium Arctic Gateway Group in September 2018 for 117 million – officially welcomed by PM Trudeau, and it appears Canada’s northern port will be open to visitors who do not choose to fly in – the only other way to get there. Before the ink had dried a promise was made to have damaged tracks repaired and they did it! Probably self serving as the sale included the lucrative northern port and it will be necessary to have people stay there!

That fact hangs heavy for budget travellers. Will there be anywhere for solo, budget, backpacker visitors to stay? The hostel I had booked for July 2017 permanently closed just two months. I do not know accommodations close regularly in Churchill but it does appear part of the reason must be behind the rail closure; 18 months without budget visitors is a long time, closing just as polar bear ‘season’ was ramping up has the appearance of desperation. Of course this means options are practically nil for a budget traveller. I sent a message to the tour company I had originally booked a walking tour with in the hope they are still in operation and doing eco tours.

Via Rail’s website is still showing trips to Churchill are still unavailable. I will keep checking with the plan to visit some time before the end of September 2019. I should have photos by then! (Unfortunately the very few photos from the time I lived in Churchill in 1958/59 are not with me)

Have Chariot – August Update

Only one week left before we slip into September. My living room was a little chilly when I got up this morning. Someone left the big wall fan on all night. I am beginning to think I will not get out for a test camp. Of course, with a campfire ban, over 560 wildfires, and extremely smoky skies across the province camping is not exactly a fun prospect. This morning I woke up, peeked out the window and saw blue sky and a sunrise working hard to pierce the clouds. The smoky haze is nearly all gone. Everyone can at least take a proper breath.

Heavy smoke in the air for a week is not healthy. Smoke in the air of one of the most beautiful places in world is unthinkable when it surpasses the Air Quality (AQI) levels in Beijing! Firefighters at all levels need to be applauded, this has been a tough summer. A summer some are saying is the new normal. Yikes! Although a shift in wind, so smoke, direction has changed there will not be any changes to the campfire ban. So sad, no roasted marshmallows in the new future.

My hope is to go on a day trip up Vancouver Island to visit Newcastle Island even if we cannot camp there for now. I am definitely an island girl. Of course, no smoky skies here does not mean it will be clear closer to where some of the wildfires are burning. This means I will be keeping a close watch on weather, fires burning, AQI, traffic before heading out. Probably next week if all is fine. Meanwhile, happy note, I can still go blackberry picking! Possibly a quick trip to Sooke where I know of some great places.