Ontario Visit: prepping for my epic journey home

 I am busy not being busy for once. A couple of down days for my four enforced down days on a train. I do have to figure out food, and COFFEE, to remain somewhat sane sleeping on seats that recline only a very little. It is my hope I will not have anyone sit beside me. I will be at the station quite early which means there is a chance I can at least grab a window seat unless there are a lot of young people travelling. They tend to rush ahead of everyone and spread everything out on ‘their’ territory. I am speaking from experience, not crotchety old age. Having travelled on hard seats in China I will not be thwarted from establishing my own space. Perhaps most of the passengers will be berth or cabin paying. even I can hear my inner voice asking if I am bonkers.

Back to food. The on-board choices are not great for economy besides having fairly generous hours of operation. I had played with the idea of buying pre-packaged meals from StarBucks using my AirMiles. Aha, thinking like Pooh &  using my “Very little Brain…[to] Think of Things” I came up with buying a package of ‘meal prep’ containers I had come across at Dollarama. Only $4.00 for 7. (that’s CAD) Three compartments each, lid closes well, and reusable! So far I have mini croissants, small cans of tuna, dried apricots, granola bars, small pots of yogurt (still trying to figure that out) & orange juice. Squishy ice packs. Ground coffee. I have absolutely no recollection if cream, or even milk, is available to we lowly economy class passengers.

Considering my so far rather sad selection I have had to think what else I should take along that will last for 3-4 days. Ideally I should not have to make any purchases along the way. However, we do not live in an ideal world and the train is far too often spectacularly late! There is usually a fairly long stop in Winnipeg with the station just a hop, skip and jump from the Forks where of all sorts of yummy supplies can be bought. However, I do not want to run short if there is a delay in arrival. Stops in Edmonton and Jasper might work, except the former is well into the evening and I experienced a 12 hour delay waiting for the train to arrive in Jasper one winter! From Edmonton. Which brings me back to what else to buy.

I have settled on boiling six eggs (tea eggs would be divine, sadly my daughter & SIL do not have what I need; and I am not supposed to have soy products), apples (I will pre slice those), cheese, broccoli & cauliflower – preferably already cut unless my SIL will use it up, some sort of dip. Cream. In Ontario the milk and cream come with pour spouts that have caps – hurray! I am hoping a 1/2L will be enough until I determine what is on-board. With all of that I think I should have enough, yet I still worry I have forgotten something. Of course I may become sick of tuna and eggs!

As for coffee. Of course I already have that! It came with me from home.

Ontario visit: more art & some planning

I mentioned that there as so much to enjoy at the Kitchener Art Gallery. One exhibit is a combination of poetry and paintings of myths and legends from different countries. I toyed with the idea of leaving out the poetry before realizing that would be like tearing a painting in half. I chose my favourites to share. The following day I visited a much smaller exhibition, if 365 drawings can be considered small. All the artists are Canadian.

Geetha Thurairajah certainly pulls no punches with this work. I believe there were only seven pieces. Any more would have overloaded the senses.

Exhibit Title: Migration is more momentous than ancient invasions

Tales of Heritage, Saul Field printmaker; Hedi Bouraoiu, author. I enjoyed the interpretation of the myths and found myself seeking the depth within these pieces. There is a village in each of the two I was most drawn to.

The following day I visited the Causerie, a community initiative fairly close to where I am staying. They were exhibiting The Daily Leaf ( not what most people first to think of with that title), 365 water colour/pencil & ink originals. As the artist, Lee Angold, discovered, a major undertaking to pick up one leaf everyday for one year then draw and paint it. It was not easy to select absolute favourites – rather like walking through a forest with a child.

This one intrigued me, once it was enlarged on my screen I thought, “There be dragons”.

I was told that most visitors search for the leaf that matches their birthday.

Not all of my time has been spent in art galleries. I discovered one unkempt churchyard, with a canoe of all things holding plants. Not much of an Ark. I will return for a free concert. At The Causerie I was given information about all sorts of activities, sadly I had to miss the full day of music I had planned to attend because I did not feel well. all worked out, it poured with rain in the afternoon – the canoe might have come in handy!

Expenses: Days one and two – zero! I was even given a cup of tea at the Causerie to help ease my sore, croaky throat after an evening of speaking and cheering a bit too loudly at the Drag Race Finale show.

Victoria to Ontario: day one (and the aftermath of the day before)

I like to be prepared. I tend to be prepared for whatever could possibly go wrong. Therefore, I made sure I have parking insurance for my car dealt with before I leave although it will not kick in until July. I also had to renew my driver’s licence before I returned and made plans to do that in the afternoon. However, I was also going with the daughter with the broken toe which meant I had the morning to go for a walk and just enjoy some quiet time before entering the madness of bureaucracy.

I headed to Ross Bay Cemetery in Victoria. Opened in 1873. The 27.5 acre cemetery is part of a public park and its south side faces Ross Bay on the Pacific Ocean. It is named after its owner, Isabella Mainville Ross, the first registered independent woman landowner in British Columbia. Isabella was also Indigenous, an Anishinaabe and French Métis woman, which makes her accomplishment even more remarkable. 

There are some remarkable tombstones and lovely epitaphs as well as some very simple ones. One that pulls at the heartstrings has new, flat stones sitting in front of more recently deceased family members. It has been many years since I visited the cemetery so it was only the original carving I ever saw.

Rather sweet to see someone still leaves a little gift for the child.

The cemetery has a fantastic view of Ross Bay and the mountains across the waters. It is such a peaceful place, of course the permanent residents are very quiet although some of the annual residents can be a bit alarming when one stumbles across them! Clover abounds and there are not any vehicles.

There were more deer, these ones just happened to be close enough for me to capture in photos without disturbing them. A common sight. (As are cougars and even bears – wildlife and city live by cheek and jowl in Victoria)

Best part of my morning wandering was when I though perhaps I was hearing things, or perhaps a call from beyond? Someone was tuning up, then playing bagpipes! Unlike many people I happen to enjoy the pipes. I did not want to disturb him to ask why he was there, nor had I seen any indication of a burial or people gathering.

Not a great shot, and I chose to not zoom in or crop anything.

Of course many tombstones have interesting stories behind their design, this one intrigued me. I like the idea of tripping the lights fantastic for eternity.

I even managed to fit in a walk along the ocean wall, probably just as well considering how my afternoon unfolded.

Whenever I think of permanently moving to maybe Ontario I am reminded of how much I love living on the island with easy access to the ocean.

After putting in nearly 10,000 steps I felt ready for the rest of my day although it was barely 11:00am. I picked up some plants for my youngest daughter, checked out some stores at a local mall – killing time – then headed to the college to pick up my injured daughter. AS we both had to deal with ID it made sense to do everything at the same time. Parking was not easy, ended up being costly in my effort to not force my daughter to walk too far on a broken toe.

The time we spent for her BCID and my DL was not too bad, but the result pushed me into major panic. Hers was easy. Mine was more complicated. Seems honesty can create delays. I left with a Driver’s Medical Exam form that must be filled out before I leave – today. Of course I called my GP’s office right away, seems there was no space to squeeze me in yesterday of today. Go see a walk in. Panic rose. We checked the medi.map and headed to a clinic on the way home. They were great, except we could not download the information needed and the receptionist, in an effort to help, called the lab to fax it, except they sent the wrong one! So, after much wringing of hands, thanking them effusively, and muttering under my breath that I should have done my DL sooner – or lied – I said I would be back in the morning. Which I am.

Now to wait. The plan is to be done and out in time to drive home, park the car, change the litter box and catch the first of three buses to make it to the airport on time. High blood pressure anyone? Thank goodness I plan my packing way ahead!

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.

A Last Hurrah? Memories & Plans

Today would have been my mother’s 83rd birthday. I am working on my trip to Churchill, MB with the plan to leave Toronto on June 30th, my father’s birthday. If all goes well I will arrive in Winnipeg, where my father’s only surviving sibling lives (my aunt – the eldest) on July 1st. Then to Churchill where I will spend one full day, July 5th, my sister’s birthday. She was born in Churchill, I believe we left when she was still an infant – perhaps it was before the next snowfall.

Not that any of this is important; I just found it interesting, and then some moments to reflect on all that has happened in the last five plus years. More if I include when my father died in 2010. We are so often surrounded by memories of birthdays, the continued passing of time. Which brought me up short, why am I even planning this trip? The polar bears will most likely not be around. There will probably be black flies, accommodation seems ridiculously pricey even for two stars. Yet, despite the railway having closed for 18 months due to a washout I was ecstatic I could once again take the train to Churchill.

Then, I recently found I am feeling less excited. The cancellation in 2017 turned all my plans upside down. It feels like a task rather than an adventure. I am hopeful that as everything comes together I will be excited. Even if it means staying one night in Winnipeg. At least it might be fun with arriving on Canada Day. Of course, one major factor is finances. I could afford the trip two years ago. Times change, bills still need to be paid, and not enough is coming in.

I am seeking inspiration. Yes, Churchill is expensive, it is in the far north of Ontario and only accessible by train or plane. That is part of the adventure. It is not exactly safe to wander about outside the town. Polar bears cannot be trusted to not suddenly decide to visit. Interesting note, car doors are left unlocked in the event anyone is caught out when a polar bear is nearby. However, I hear the place has gone downhill over the years. What will I do? I do have a half or full day tour, not polar bear chasing, tentatively booked and I will be trying to find out where we lived. I want a photo.

There it is, that spark that drives me. Going home because it is interesting. There is a personal history as well as the history of the country. All the planning, all the bits of paper, pencil shavings (very old school), emails and telephone class are all part of the adventure. Granted, the coat is still an issue. Perhaps my last great travel hurrah?