Sunday, December 27, 2009

Getting restless

Well it's been three months since my last post. Apart from a trip to see family in Alberta I've been staying at home. Getting VERY restless! I need the excitement of the road badly. I have a good life and good friends, good jobs, blah blah blah but I need the excitement of discovering new places and meeting new people. I crave it.

I leave for Mexico two weeks from tomorrow - woo hoo!!! My hotel looks adorable:

http://www.lasiesta.com.mx/

I have an ocean view room and plan to spend many hours on my balcony enjoying the sunshine, meditating and reading some good books. I plan to walk the malecon, visit the local markets, eat some good food, do some photography and explore. I just need some time away on my own. I can't wait!!! I wish it was more than a week but oh well - there is always another year. I have fantasies of bussing it all over Mexico on my own one winter. However I will definitely have to improve my Spanish before then....

Another trip is in the works...far less relaxing....but should be fun if it all works out. More later... I had booked a trip to California but decided against it for numerous reaons. Not ruling it out at a future date but not this year - it's still my dream to do the Surf City half marathon and claim my surf board medal. But first I need to get into shape....I haven't done a half marathon in nearly three years and it shows unfortunately. I feel like I have another ten half marathons in me. I walk, I don't run but not going to apologize for that. I already have bad knees, I don't need to wreck them anymore.

I can't handle the Saskatchewan winters anymore so at least I am getting away for three weeks of this one. Eventually I hope to escape them permanently. I am a misplaced ocean child!

Stay tuned!

Monday, September 28, 2009

It's winter!

Yep it started snowing last night and while it's quite nice temperature wise I have discovered despite my new soles my hiking boots are quite slippery.

Anyway....the boat trip was all right. I wouldn't call it 'absolutely amazing' like the other person on the trip did but it was okay. Luckily the boat was enclosed although still on the chilly side - we went up the east channel of the MacKenzie stopping at the Reindeer station to get out and walk around. Which is a place where a herd of reindeer resided and were looked after - then "harvested". The guide was good and had lived there all his life - he and the other fellow talked about how sad it was that the northern way of life of hunting and trapping and living off the land has ended. I won't say what I thought. Anyway the station was there in the 70's for about ten years and is now deserted. There are still the cabins but they have been trashed by the bears. Guess there are grizzly bear dens up in the Caribou Hills behind the station. Once we got up to that area the snow started falling and followed us back to Inuvik. We then went onto the main part of the MacKenzie River for a bit but everything starts to look the same after a while.

We didn't see any animals besides a beaver and some rabbits so that was disappointing. It was pretty interesting to see such a remote area - probably one of the most remote areas I've ever been in if not the most remote. I am glad I wore my hiking boots as we were walking through mud and puddles.

I found out that one of the hotels l here charges less than what I am paying for my hovel...I mean bed and breakfast place...but of course he is getting government rates plus staying for six weeks. When I did my research every place charged way more than what I am paying. Anyway if my flight gets cancelled and I am stuck here for another night (I want to run screaming out of here at the thought) I will splurge and stay at a decent place. One thing though...my place is cozy and warm and at least the TV works.

One embarasssing thing...I had been leaving my glasses, mugs, plates, etc. to do one big wash as the dish detergent is nearly gone...well yesterday they came in and washed everything up for me.

I haven't seen the sun since I got here so I guess I am not meant to live in British Columbia...I am going crazy without the sun! At least in Saskatchewan even when it's -40 the sun will be shining. I can't even begin to imagine what it would like to live here in the winter especially in December when there is about two hours of daylight a day - you have to be a special sort of person (crazy?) to live here then.

Oh well hopefully tomorrow morning I will be back in Yellowknife watching the incredible sunrise over Great Slave Lake and seeing the float planes taking off.....PLEASE!!!!!!

After I have my alloted time on the computer I will cross the street, finish packing up and start thinking of heading to the airport. My flight leaves at 1:43 p.m. and I will get into Yellowknife at 4:15. Then I fly home the next day.

All high school classes were cancelled today due to diesel fumes in the school so it was a race to beat kids onto a computer. (I discovered this after I got here right after the library opened) The library is well used that is for sure and of course being quiet in a library is a thing of the past.... I am seriously thinking of getting one of those netbooks to have in time for my next trip. Then I can happily surf or blog wherever and whenever I darn well please.

So this will definitely be my last post...unless my flight gets cancelled.

I will update this with pictures later in the week.

Cheerio from the north!

Sunday, September 27, 2009

I am nuts

I am going on a boat trip along the Mackenzie river today at 5 p.m. That's the only time he can do it - not sure how many of us are going but it won't be a full load apparently. It is going to be cold I am sure so will put on every bit of clothing I have brought up here with me. :) It stays light quite late here. It is really on the wrong time zone the taxi driver told me and so it is dark until about 9:30 in the morning and doesn't get dark until about 10 p.m. We will be out until about 9 apparently.

It is cool out there but not windy at least. I guess we will stop at a Reindeer station whatever that is. Maybe where Rudolph hangs out?

I walked along to the Igloo church today and was able to pop in before the service and have a look at it - very interesting. I then slithered out before the service started.

I will have to find a place to eat this afternoon - had planned to treat myself to a meal at the MacKenzie Inn tonight but they don't open for dinner until 6 p.m. By the time we are done with the boat trip I am sure all I will want is a cup of hot chocolate and a hot bath! It should be fun though she said hopefully.

I ended up picking up a veggie wrap last night and taking it back to the B & B. I may try the pizza thing this afternoon - I just have to be brave enough to walk into the restaurant and check it out. Like I mentioned they all look a bit dodgy from the outside. I guess if I am really desparate I can get a personal pan pizza from the little Pizza Hut place in the Northmart store. A bit of a local hang out.

My flight leaves around 1 p.m. tomorrow - I think I've had enough of Inuvik. My feet have been bothering me quite a bit so long hikes haven't been on the agenda and there's really nowhere to go. I was going to walk out on the highway to get a picture of the Welcome to Inuvik sign but did manage to get a postcard of it plus I can always get the taxi driver to stop on the way to the airport tomorrow. I guess if I wasn't so cheap I would go out to the white husky kennels but I think she is a bit of a rip off artist. Still hoping that Beck's kennels in Yellowknife will come through for me but oh well it sounds like dog sledding will have to wait for another trip north. (still have to do Whitehorse and Churchhill) The dogs here aren't training yet which seems strange as winter is fast approaching.

I think I will treat myself to another fish and chips dinner at Bullock's Bistro tomorrow night in Yellowknife - unless I am out with the dogs....

Unless flights get delayed (heaven forbid) this will be my last post until I get back home.

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Saturday in Inuvik

Well am sitting in the Inuvik library again...they sure don't believe in disciplining their kids here..yikes. They are literally running all over the library. Of course mom and dad drop them off and I gather the library are their baby sitters.

It's snowing out there today...just lightly and it's not too cold out. I went for a short walk(almost one hour) this afternoon and explored a few streets - was going to go on the Boot Lake Trail but I saw a bear proof garbage completely pulled over with ripped bags and trash everywhere. It was probably the two legged type of animal that did the damage but it made me very uneasy. So I didn't go far on the trail at all as no one else was around..

This morning I supported the local economy and did a bit of shopping...got myself an original print and also a piece of Inuit art - not soapstone this time but something to hang on the wall. I love it.

Inuvik is very different from Iqaluit - Iqaluit was much more what I expected a town in the far north to be like. This is almost too civilized..although I would still rather bite my whole arm off than live here. One good thing....prices here are much cheaper due to being able to ship by truck - thanks to the Dempster highway which comes all the way from Dawson City, Yukon. Some of the items in the grocery store are double what you'd pay at home - not triple or quadruple like in Iqaluit. However restaurant meals are not much more expensive than at home. However I can't seem to find a place that serves local fare such as Arctic Char or locally caught fish. Instead tonight might be take out pizza....although not the local Pizza Hut thank you. Yes they have Pizza Hut and KFC here in the local Northmart. Because the buildings are so strange here - minimal windows (if any at all) and on blocks - due to permafrost you can't really judge a restaurant from how it looks on the outside. All the buildings look grim! I had a meal yesterday at the Eskimo Inn which was recommended by two people and it was all right. I am going to ask my B & B hosts about the place that says it serves pizza and pasta....

I may be going out on a boat trip tomorrow afternoon on the MacKenzie River - if I can connect with the tour operator and the other person doesn't cancel. I can only imagine how cold it will be on the river but the trip sounds like fun. There is cell phone service up here but my cell phone isn't working. Other than that no tours avaiilable at this time of year. I decided not to bother going out to see the White Huskies as they charge rip off prices. $85 to go on a hike with the huskies....we walked with Sheena in Hay River for free!!!

One good thing...I have a TV! So in the evenings I sit and read or watch TV. Not an action packed time here but that's okay. I will hit the ground running once I get home so it is nice to be able to relax and recharge my batteries and just observe life up here.

The bed and breakfast is....unique.....yes I will use that word. It is much cheaper than staying in a hotel but not a place I'd stay again.

Monday it's back to Yellowknife....if the weather behaves and then home on Tuesday. I still have a chance Monday evening to see the Northern lights and go out on a training run but it doesn't look good. I did see the Northern lights on Thursday night however it was just a shimmering white light in the sky - pretty but not the coloured lights you see on postcards.

This will probably be my last entry until I get home again. I will update the blog with pictures once I am home. It's been a real adventure and I've enjoyed the trip so much.

Friday, September 25, 2009

Hi from the Arctic

Yep above the Arctic Circle in Inuvik and got my certificate to prove it! The flight was good - Canadian North is the best. Stopped in Norman Wells so got off the plane and had a break - state of the art airport - well they all are being as people have to fly around here to get most places.

My B & B is more like an apartment - I have the place to myself right now and unless someone turns up unexpectedly I will continue to have it to myself.

When I got my certificate one of the city managers took me for a tour around town and drove me down to the mighty MacKenzie river. Beautiful. There is a great hiking trail there around a small lake and NO BEARS so will try that out this weekend. Three nights here - my my I was insane - but oh well I will get to know the place well. Hell I am even going to go to RC church on Sunday morning - just so I can see the inside of the Igloo church. I hope the roof doesn't cave in.

Anyway I am off exploring the town. This library is a wonderful little place and across from my B & B so will be in here a lot and hopefully can keep everyone updated on my northern adventure. Not much to report yet except to say I am here and in one piece. People seem very friendly here.

Snowing a bit here but nothing much - it sounds like I won't see the sun all weekend but oh well.

I brought books with me to read, am opposite the library and am living above a book shop so shouldn't run short of reading material if I get bored.

Cheerio and I hopefully will check in tomorrow.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Bummer

Well here I sit in the Yellowknife library again....at this moment I should be heading out with some sled dogs on a training run but it's been cancelled due to the weather - cold and wet. Apparently the dogs don't like running in the rain...what a bunch of wooses!!! :) She told me if the weather is good I could go out MOnday evening or Tuesday morning before I fly home. It doesn't make me feel better though.....if the cell phone service hadn't been done yesterday maybe I'd have connected as yesterday was gorgeous here.

No northern lights last night...it clouded up.....

On the bright side the fish and chips at Bullocks Bistro last night were awesome - on the down side I think I left my ATM card there last night. Oh well luckily there is a branch of my bank here and I managed to get a new one. First time I've ever lost my ATM card....So as you can tell it's not my day.....

The B & B is pretty good and I love the location - in Old Town and by the lake so I can watch the float planes fly in and out. I'd love to go on one of those but the northern prices for that are beyond my budget plus not in the rain....the owner is nice but man he is uptight and nervous. I think to be a B & B owner you need to be a bit more relaxed. I've had the place to myself but another room will be occupied tonight.

Man sitting in the midst of a bunch of teenagers here...don't they go to school? Yellowknife is fun to visit but to live here....I'd rather knaw my right hand off.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Blue skies in Yellowknife


Frame Lake, Yellowknife







View from Pilot's Monument over Yellowknife Bay - my B & B is right in the middle (pink)

Well here I am at the Yellowknife Public Library with a nutso computer trying to update my blog.

The trip up here yesterday from Hay River was great - the "bus" was a ten person van with three of us originally - one got out at Fort Providence which I was happy about. (he kept leaning over my shoulder with his beery breath and being my personal tour guide until I put my ear phones on and he took the hint) I met a fellow from our Greyhound trip up in Fields in Hay River and he told me the bus trip was horrific and bumpy, etc. and the worst of his life. Well I kept wondering when the bad part was going to start...I didn't find it bad at all - yeah a bit bumpy in places but I've had way worse. I loved the trip and am so glad I did it. The ferry over the MacKenzie river to Providence was short but fun and seeing Bison on the side of the road was even better. The driver was so nice and stopped so I could get some shots although it was getting dark out so they didn't turn out the greatest. However it was awesome to see these huge beasts. Two potty stops as well which made me happy being as I have the bladder of a 95 year old woman.

My taxi driver got a bit lost finding the B & B but we located it - I had been here three years before but at night I did not recognize the place - esp. as there has been major renovations going on. Anyway luckily the owner came up and got me and my luggage up to my room. I am in the Midnight Sun room.

This morning I had breakfast at 7:30 and watched float planes take off into the rising sun - it was awesome. That's one thing I remember...their huge windows overlooking Yellowknife Bay - last time I was here in May 06 the lake was mostly frozen. Not now.

I started off on the 10km walk enjoying the gorgeous day - blue skies and lovely fall foilage. It has been raining here for days and the forecast did not look good so I was happy. On my way to Ragged Ass street I asked a young lady which way to go and not only did she tell me but she also told me about her favourite view. In amongst a bunch of shacks (she lives in one) and along a scraggly old boardwalk was a gorgeous view of the lake. It was beautiful. She is from Quebec and has lived here since May - no indoor toilets or plumbing..not for me but I admire those that can do it and live a simpler life. I can't even imagine living there in the winter.

After walking around the Old Town I walked around Frame Lake which was beautiful. Warning about bears posted although rarely seen - didn't stop me nearly crapping my pants every time I saw a black dog though. :) Hey, I admit it I am a city girl (and proud of it) - not brave at all when it comes to wild animals. I had heard you could go for dog training runs with Beck Kennels. The lady at the visitor centre said I should go out to the Kennels being as I could not reach them as got their voicemail (she did and was able to go out) and the cell phone service is down. So I did...$30 later all I got was a view of the dogs in the kennels. Noisy little buggers. Luckily the taxi driver waited and drove me back. I have left a voice mail so hopefully can connect for tomorrow and go out on a training run. (on wheels) We shall see. Me thinks I will be helping to support the local taxi cab employees while I am here.

I am going to walk around Old Town again next and then treat myself to a nice white fish and chips dinner at Bullocks Bistro - this time I will expect the high price - last time I nearly fainted. It is a crazy place that has to be experienced to be believed yet one of the best places to eat in town. However the food is GOOD. Sure there is A & W, MacDonalds (shudder...), KFC,(or Kentucky Fried Maggots as I like to call it) etc. but I intend to enjoy the local food here even if it costs more money.

If it's clear tonight dare I hope for a show of the Northern Lights. It's all a matter of weather and luck....I guess the view of the lights is magnificent from the windows of the B & B. Keep your fingers crossed for me!!

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Last day in Hay River

Later today I will head off on the bus to Yellowknife - not arriving until about 11:30 p.m. I wish it was earlier but what can you do....the bus goes to Enterprise and meets the folks that have come from Edmonton.

Yesterday Eilleen and I did the 10 km town walk. We did it in two parts - the 5 km part that goes out to Great Slave Lake - well to the ice road into the lake actually. Which is not an ice road right now! The actual path goes by the river but it is frequented by bears and Nancy herself won't even go down there. I think she referred to it as "bear alley". So we walked on the road. Not as pretty but much safer. Eilleen said if she had done the walk by herself she would have done the path - not me - I am not very brave when there are animals around that could at the very least make me drop dead with fear. This time of year they are foraging for berries and other things to get fat for their winter hibernation so are out there. Nancy only walks that route in the winter when they are hibernating. I figure if a local avoids that route so will I.

Anyway we came back here and had some lunch then headed out again to do the town walk. We popped in to say hi to Nancy at the library and stamp our walking books. We then walked past the trailer court I used to live in when I first moved to Hay River...I would hope the trailer is long gone as it was ancient then. Then past the Singles apartments (all bachelor apartments) where I lived for two months....walls like paper.....party central back in 1973. Oh well it was an adventure back then and I don't regret my brief stay in Hay River one little bit.

Last night we took Nancy and Tom out for supper to Back Eddy's - we all ordered the white fish (from Great Slave Lake) which was delicious with a spicy sauce on it. We all indulged in dessert as well as beer/wine so it was a great meal and we were all full when we came back here.

I did laundry last night so this morning will see me totally repacking my suitcase and then I will take another walk downtown for old time's sake. I hope to take Sheena for a short walk too - what a sweet dog she is. I want to take her home!

Nancy and Tom have been such wonderful hosts - I sure hope they can get some people to join the club as Nancy has worked so hard to create some beautiful walks. People don't realize how lucky they are to have a Volkssport club up here.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Walking in the driftwood



Walking along the driftwood Tom cooking the "dogs"

Just back from a spectacular walk on one of the Great Slave Lake beaches. It was wonderful. Quite windy today and the wind was "bracing". But what fun! It was called "Last of the Summer Walks" and was a Volkssport Event with the local club here. There were 9 of us - 10 including Sheena. I am a bit driftwood challenged so wasn't exactly hopping from log to log but managed to get around without breaking anything! (it wasn't pretty but luckily no one was behind me!) Mostly it was just walking along the beach - a bit too cold today to walk barefoot though! Afterwards we settled into chairs sheltered from the wind by a couple of the vehicles and had Spruce tea (made from Spruce branches - delish) and a weiner roast over an open fire. Kudos to Tom for the "dogs" and Bruce for the tea! People who walked by got tea and hot dogs as well - everyone here is so laid back and friendly. What a wonderful afternoon!!!

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Waterfalls and fish


Sheena by a beaver pond on the path between the two waterfalls

Alexandra Falls

This morning we relaxed while Nancy attended a staff meeting. At noon she came back and got us and we went to fisherman's wharf in Old Town. They have a farmer's market there on Saturdays and we had some delicious home made fish and chips - with fish caught in the lake. It was great. Then we headed off to Enterprise which is about a 25 minute drive from here to walk at Alexandra and Louise falls. When I traveled there in 1973 it was a horrible gravel road but it is paved now and a great drive. I kept looking for bears as it's not unusual to see them in the ditches but no luck.

Anyway we walked the short distance to Alexandra Falls (accompanied by Sheena, the husky mix) and then on to Louise Falls. They are both beautiful - Alexandra Falls is higher than Niagara Falls. It was a fantastic walk through the forest with the sound of the falls in the background. By then the weather had clouded up but luckily the rain stayed away until after we got back in the van.

Back to Nancy's for a delicious supper of home made potato salad and roast chicken followed by cake and ice cream. We spent the evening chatting.

What a fun weekend it is - I can't wait until tomorrow!

Flashback to the 70's




I am here in the north now. I flew up to Edmonton on Wednesday and had about 40 hours there - had a great visit with Colleen (my sister) and we even went for a walk together (and she outwalked me - shame on me!). Had a couple of wonderful meals. It was fun. Then I met Eilleen at the bus depot at midnight on Thursday night and off we headed north. The ride up got more beautiful the further north we got with golden trees amongst the green pines. At Indian Cabins (right before the NWT border) we stopped for a break and the fellow in the shop was so excited that we were from Regina (he lived there for a while) that he gave Eilleen a free hot chocolate and gave me a great deal on some note cards I had bought. People up here are so friendly. The driver stopped at the NWT border and let us get out and take photographs.


Nancy was there to meet us upon our arrival in Hay River. She brought us back to her home where we met her husband Tom and their husky cross Sheena. (so goodie...I get a doggie fix all weekend long) After a delicious stew for supper we headed out for a tour of Hay River. It was a trip down memory lane for me as I lived here in the early 70's - I worked as a telephone operator at Canadian National Telephones (CNT). We saw the remains of the "Zoo" - a bar that us young ladies only went to accompanied by the male of the species - as well as the old telephone office (no longer used, technology eliminated that). Of course 36 years later there have been massive changes and in most ways I barely remember the place but memories are flooding back. After a tour of Old Town we dipped our toes into Great Slave Lake and walked barefoot along the beach as we watched the sun fade into the west. After viewing a spectacular sunset we drove throught the West Channel area of Old Town (Hay River has an Old Town and New Town) which is unique - and back to Nancy and Tom's house. What a wonderful evening - I saw places I had forgotten about (like the purple high school - how you could forget something like that...once I saw it I remembered instantly) and it brought back memories of people I had met here. (good & bad!) Not only memories of friends & boyfriends past but sweet memories of my parents' visit to see me here in September 1973. It was a glorious day as well with blue sunny skies.

This morning it is cloudy but hopefully the rain will hold off. After going to Fisherman's wharf for a fish lunch we are going to Louise & Alexandra Falls this afternoon to do a hike.

It's going to be a wonderful weekend I can tell!

Saturday, September 12, 2009

I'm back!




It's been a busy summer of working (have to pay for my adventures somehow!), dog sitting, and walking. I did a couple of short two day walking trips in June but other than day trips was pretty well confined to home. However things are changing!!!

Last weekend a friend and I headed to Medicine Hat, Alberta for a walking weekend put on by the Albert Volkssport Association. It was so much fun. We walked the coulees in Medicine Hat which were beautiful. I have only ever cruised through Medicine Hat by car or hound and never stopped to explore. What a pretty city! I am thinking it would be a good place to go train for a few days when I finally book that elusive trip to Nepal I've been dreaming about for years. We also walked in Elkwater in the Cypress Hills for a day. We stuck to the low level walks which were 6 km each. Enough for me at this point. I got some great shots. My friend Dorothy shocked some Cypress Hills rangers I am sure - they have cameras up in the forest - there have been cougar sightings so that could be why? Not sure. Anyway let's just say they will see more than cougars when they check that tape! Crazy woman! Anyway the Medicine Hat group put on a great weekend including a mealfter the first walk of the weekend. About 8 different kinds of chili con carne, rolls, veggie and dip and desset incuding a huge cake celebrating the 25th anniversary of the Mountain Majesty weekends. All in all a great time.

After a busy weekend of walking and taking part in Marathon events here (I am a volunteer this year again) four more sleeps and I am off on an adventure in Canada's north. The North West Territories this time. I will be traveling by bus from Edmonton (after crashing with my sister for a night and having a visit with her) to Hay River (old stomping ground of the early 70's - let's just say that was the wild time of my life..) for a weekend of walking - the president of the local walking club has graciously offered to put me up, on to Yellowknife for a couple of days and then a weekend in Inuvik. I have wanted to visit Inuvik since I lived in Hay River so I decided why not. I will be gone nearly two weeks. It should be lots of fun. Stay tuned!

Friday, May 29, 2009

Tulips, walking and hounds




Well I am back from my latest jaunt. Unfortunately I didn't have much internet access while away so couldn't update my blog. I left May 12th and came rolling in by bus yesterday morning May 28th.

It was a great two weeks. I spent a week in Ottawa with two walking friends. I took part in the Ottawa Tulip walking festival and enjoyed all the walks - despite the crappy weather. The tulips were amazing. The friends I stayed with had two dogs so I got my dog fix - always important! We visited Merickville which is a small town on the Rideau canal. I love the Ottawa area. Then we drove to North Bay for the walking convention which was great fun. The weather was fantastic the whole time I was there. The accommodation at Nipissing University (Governers House) was great with a view of Nipissing Lake from it's front windows. The convention was fun from beginning to end. I spent one night in a cabin in Samuel Champlain Provincial park which was a unique experience - the black flies were unreal so bought myself a mosquito net to cover my face when we did the walk. It will come in handy here in Saskatchewan! If I dare put it on! Spent my last day with two walking friends from New Brunswick that were members of our club here. A wonderful holiday filled with friendship, walking in beautiful surroundings , good food and doggie fixes - you can't beat that in my opinion.
The Greyhound trip was fine - I am still tired but I will recuperate. Guess we nearly hit a moose in northern Ontario - darn I was laying down (as close as you can get to laying down on the bus) and felt the braking but missed the moose. Also I guess a wolf ran in front of us as well according to the driver. It is absolutely beautiful country there. In my younger days I used to feel it wasn't really a holiday unless you flew somewhere. After my two flying trips in April it was nice to relax and enjoy the scenery. The "long haulers" on the Greyhound become almost their own community.....I will be doing more hound trips for sure. I am so lucky to live in such a beautiful country and thanks to belonging to the Volkssport federation I am seeing more of my own country than I had ever dreamed about. I have walked in all the provinces and territories except for the Yukon but I am working on that!

Now except for a couple of walking weekends I will be home until mid September when I head up to the Northwest Territories for a couple of weeks. Then after that who knows....I am not planning anything until I see my bank balance after a summer of working.


Stay tuned!




Wednesday, April 29, 2009

This and that

Well can you believe it snowed yesterday...it didn't stay on the ground long but it was still SNOW...disgusting. It was depressing...I can't even imagine how I'd feel if I'd been here through the horrific winter and had to put up with more in late April. I am already thinking where I can go for the cheapest price next winter....hmmm.....wonder if you can camp on the beach in Mexico...um...maybe not Mexico right now.....I am thinking about petsitting on Vancouver Island for a bit. I just have to make contacts and find a place. Also thinking of doing a half marathon in southern California which would take care of a week. All I know is it won't be a 7 weeker like this past winter...too bad but that's the way it is. Unless I win the lottery which would be indeed be a miracle as I don't buy lottery tickets!

I start dogsitting tomorrow for almost a week - for a sweet Newfoundland named Daisy. Slowly my summer is getting booked up with both work and dogsitting as well as weekend walks with my walking group. Life is never boring.

Off to Ottawa and North Bay in a couple of weeks and then home all summer until it's time to head to the NorthWest Territories in September. Another couple of adventures to look forward to.

Was dismayed to hear they are killing all the pigs in Egypt due to the Swine flu but somehow it doesn't surprise me either. I love visiting these places but their view towards animals is a bit disturbing including my beloved India. I think I like animals better than humans for the most part...they are so innocent and the way we as a human species treat them is appalling. I guess that's why most of my charitable donations go to animal charities of some kind or the other. Definitely on my "bucket list" is going to the Best Friends no kill animal sanctuary in Utah and helping out with the dogs for a week or so. What a wonderful place it is. They take in animals that no one else wants and work to rehabilitate them so they can find a forever family. If it doesn't work out they have a home forever with Best Friends. Here is the link:

http://www.bestfriends.org/

Which brings me to my biggest beef in the world - why people insist on buying purebreds when there are so many beautiful dogs in shelters that need a home. My Sandy was one of them and anyone who met her would agree that you couldn't find a more beautiful loving dog. What is even worse is when people buy dogs at pet stores - almost 100% of the time they are from puppy mills. Once again Best Friends takes these poor dogs in who were used for breeding and don't even know how to walk on a leash, play, interact with humans or other dogs. It's heartbreaking. Makes me want to run over to Petland and start demonstrating right now!!!

On that note I wll say bye for now and will check in again before I head east on the hound in a couple of weeks.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Fun in Vegas

Well I am back from Las Vegas in one piece - barely. First of all the concert itself was amazing - I was the equivalent of about row 8 or so and ended up closer. Paul sang songs I hadn't heard him sing live before so that was exciting. And he was really HOT...whoa mama. The rest of us were just plain hot....poor Pat got so hot she had to sit down in the middle of the standing room only crowd. Just when Paul came on.....luckily she felt better after a couple of songs. Then this lady who before I'd thought was kind of a weirdo with black curly hair all over the place and just kind of strange looking was kind enough to offer her water (they would not let water bottles in - we had to buy stuff at the bar if we wanted liquid refreshment) so she felt better after that. It was tough as we had to start lining up at 5 p.m., the concert was scheduled to start at 8 but did not start until almost 8:40 which pissed me off big time. Of course the moment Paul bounded on stage I forgave him but up until then he was not in my good books. Would I do standing room only again? Oh probably knowing me....but not for a while. And only for Paul...I think my body is still recuperating from the weekend.

Terribles Hotel & Casino turned out to be not terrible at all and was very handy to get to the Hard Rock where the concert was.

Vegas itself? It was hotter than hell so was horrid walking on the Strip - I did not gamble at all. I tried gambling with the credits we got from joining the players club (we joined only so we could get the free t-shirt and free buffet breakfast) but my PIN locked up and the line to get it fixed was too long so that was that. Did not bother at any of the other casinos. The only thing that would get me back to Vegas would be Paul and even then it would depend what time of year it was.

We rented a car on Saturday and went to the Valley of Fire state park which was fantastic. We had gone there in 05 and really enjoyed so thought why not go back. We all loved it and did a few short walks. The colours are amazing.

Sunday we hung around the pool - luckily we hadn't gone in due to the pool being too cold. We were just ready to move over to the hot tub when Pat said isn't that your phone ringing and sure enough - it was Vic saying that they were handing out wrist bands at the Hard Rock - you never saw two women move so quickly. We ran upstairs and got ourselves decent and off we went - we were just grateful our bathing suits weren't wet as we just threw everything on over top. Vic was there and had gotten us our wrist bands - # 146, 147 and 148. Yay!!! So then back to the pool and relaxing for the afternoon before we headed over for the concert where we lined up according to our numbers.

Monday morning we had our free buffet breakfast and then Vic stayed at the pool to relax before getting her flight and Pat and I walked over to the strip - we walked around Bellagio and Caesars before we split up. They were both leaving that day whereas I had one more day. I walked over to the Venetian which is my favourite casino and enjoyed a gelato sitting in St. Marks Square. I then went to the Flamingo and saw the Flamingos in the back garden and then on to Paris, Paris or whatever it's called to look around a bit. I could not get into being on the Strip at all so decided to head back to the hotel about 3. I sat at the bus stop on Flamingo and a fella told me I could get a 24 hour bus pass for $4 so that I did. Back to Terrible's to get my luggage and then I took a bus one stop (too hot to walk), transferred and then another bus downtown. I then checked in to the Plaza which for $25.62 Cdn a night was not bad. I'd stayed there in 07 and didn't have a problem with it - it's one of the original casino hotels from the 50's. I walked around the downtown area and had a buffet which was okay....someone on the bus told me it was the best buffet downtown. Well if that's the best.....Anyway watched the Fremont St. experience - the 8 p.m. one was Born to be Wild by who knows who (not Steppenwolf) and 9 p.m. was American Pie by Don McLean. Then back to the room. After midnight I was woken up by someone knocking on my door. Complaining about my snoring? I will never know as when I crept quietly to look out the peephole they were gone. It scared the crap out of me though - I am not a scaredy cat at all but being in Vegas and being woken like that...it was scary to me and I did not sleep well for the rest of the night. (and I put a chair under the door knob) Silly really.

Next morning I had breakfast at the Golden Gate which is the oldest hotel and oldest casino in Vegas and was across from the Plaza. After walking around a bit I then took the bus out to the airport - the only public bus that went to the airport was the one I'd taken the day before and it stopped just down the road from the Plaza. Hey I got my $4 worth and I figure I should write a cheapskates guide to a weekend in Vegas. I did not buy much of anything - unless you count a couple of small bags of macadamia nuts at the ABC store and a $5 pair of ear buds for my MP3 player. (luckily Canada customs didn't give me a hassle when I only claimed $20 - decided I 'd claim the t-shirt I got for free just so it didn't look too crazy) Normally I'd never claim that stuff but thought it would look too suspicious if I put a big fat zero.

Flew to Vancouver then Calgary then home. Yikes. The flight to Calgary was interesting - we circled Calgary for about 25 minutes and I figured something was up. Sure enough - technical problems. We figure the flap didn't come up or down or whatever it does (we were never told what the problem was) and we were told we would be breaking hard. And oh my - yes we did. What a landing. The plane was very quiet when the announcement was made about the technical problems and everyone beamed at each other in relief once our arms were back to their normal place and not hanging on to the seat in front of us. (felt like I was going to fly out of my seat despite the seat belt) I haven't been that nervous in an aircraft before. But hey at least it was AFTER I saw Paul. When I said I'd die happy I didn't really mean it - not quite ready to pop my clogs yet. Emergency vehicles were waiting for us and had to examine the airplane before we could taxi to the gate. We then walked or I should say dashed from one plane to another so if someone was nervous about getting on a plane again and was going on to Regina well there wasn't time to panic as we were late. Didn't worry me - I love to fly and when I think of all the flights I've taken in my lifetime (hundreds) this was the first one to have problems like that.

So now I am home for three weeks until the next adventure takes me east on the hound.

Thursday, April 9, 2009

Paul & Ringo - you rock!

I had such a good time in New York this past weekend. The absolute highlight was seeing Paul and Ringo singing together in concert Saturday evening. I must admit...I cried. The two remaining Beatles together...it was too much. Worth every penny of the bank's money...:) I can die happy now. They sang "With A Little Help from my friends" side by side and then Ringo played drums on "I Saw Her Standing There" which is one of my all time favourite Beatles songs. I boogied like a mad woman and sang all the "ooos" along with Paul. Sigh.... it was fun being twelve again. Paul had his own set as well as did Ringo and both were fantastic (especially Paul of course) but to see the two of them together.....something I will cherish for the rest of my life.

The next morning we went to a luncheonette that Paul goes to sometimes (a lady next to me at the concert filled me in) - it was all quite exciting especially when the waitress pointed out that we were sitting in the booth that Paul and his girlfriend were sitting in the day before. And Vic and I were on the same seat as him - oh my. We had to let Pat have her turn sitting there too.

Getting to New York was a pain in the butt - my flight to Toronto was fine but due to thunderstorms in New York my flight was delayed (after dashing like a mad woman to get to the gate on time) twice and then after sitting on the plane for 45 minutes the flight was cancelled. I was lucky as I had just carry on luggage so was able to change flights around a couple of times (long story...) until I finally got standby on a flight and got there about 5 hours late. But I got there and that's the main thing. I was exhausted having been up since 3:15 a.m.

I like New York...it was my fifth time there and I like it more each time. However...it is not London which is where my heart belongs. New York is brash and in your face and exciting - London is exciting but softer and gentler with much more character. New York has wonderful architecture and skyscrapers that touch the sky and huge Central Park - London has beautiful old buildings and hidden alley ways and ancient pubs and the wonderful river and fantastic parks. And the New York subway was designed by a mad man with lines going every which way and stations with the same name only on a different line. I have been on most of the subway systems in the world and it's one of the worst. I found it very frustrating.

I found the people of New York very helpful - I was walking in Lower Manhatten my last morning and asked a cop the way to the Staten Island ferry and he told me in his thick accent "I'm gonna take real good care of you" and proceeded to give me very detailed directions that I was able to follow and I didn't get lost. (in other words they were idiot proof) That probably wouldn't happen in London. They would tell you it's only 5 minutes walk and it would be more like 25.

I went to see the musical "Hair" which was interesting. It was a bit OTT at times but I loved the music. I had forgotten that there was nudity - so it was a bit of a shock when they all stripped off just before the intermission!!!

Next stop - Las Vegas!!!

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Home again home again jiggity jog

Yep home for 54 hours at least. What a great trip - had such a good time. The trip back was pretty good and both flights left on time and arrived early - perfect! The bus stop in Raleigh was a bit exciting with a fight starting up and four cop cars arriving. I beat a retreat into a nearby Irish pub for a coffee (yep was good - figured I needed my wits about me) until the (once an hour) bus came. See I am cheap and for two dollars I could take the local bus out to the airport rather than $16 for a shuttle or (gasp) $35 for a taxi. With my crazy lifestyle I have to cut corners somehow. The bus ride was fine and I'd do it again in a heartbeat. Getting off at the airport was a bit tricky as I stupidly got off the back of the bus that had steps (the front didn't) and with my bad knees I had to put my suitcase out first and it rolled a bit under the bus. I had visions of the bus driving over it but a kind lady held the door open while I retrieved my suitcase.

Of course being on eastern seaboard time I was wide awake at 5 a.m. this morning - I will no doubt be dragging my ass by 8 pm tonight if not sooner.

All my pictures are uploaded to the computer and tomorrow's project is to buy a new UV filter.

There wasn't as much snow as I had thought there would be - bonus! But looking forward to this weekend.

THE ticket was waiting in my mailbox - woo hoo. Paul and Ringo here I come! Wonder if they are as excited to see me as I am to see them. Somehow I doubt it - oh well. It is a 'variety' show so to speak (benefit concert for promoting meditation) with other artists including Sheryl Crowe (snore) and Donovan (yes! - okay I am stuck in the 60's - so sue me...) but Paul is the headliner and here's hoping he and Ringo share the stage at some point. Two Beatles on one stage - yee haw! I expect those boys to ROCK AND ROLL - yeah they're old but they still have it - esp. Paul. And I plan to boogy my ass off - and hopefully I won't need a hip or knee replacement when I get back!

Sunday, March 29, 2009

Broken glass and wind

Well today was a great day - we took the ferry over to Southport which has charming houses from the turn of the century (20th that is) and older. We visited a Christmas shop in a wonderful old house complete with a pirate Santa! Walked along the pier and then we drove on to Oak Island which was lovely. Saw the lighthouse and drove to the other end of the island looking at all the beach houses, stopping for ice cream on the way back. It was very windy though and so we didn't walk on the beach like we had planned to.

Yesterday we went to Carolina Beach. I had a catastrophe. As I was getting out of the van my camera slipped out of my hand and crashed to the ground - as in cement parking lot. With heart in mouth I surveyed the damage and what I thought was my lens was shattered. However it turned out to be only my UV filter - whew!! I am so glad I listened to a friend (you know who you are..) and got myself one as it saved me getting a new lens. It took me a while to quit shaking however and even having hot delicious donuts from a local joint that's been around since 1939 didn't calm me down. I was so upset with myself for being so careless - I had too many things in my hand and didn't have it in the case as I had just been photographing the lake. Anyway the camera seems to be working fine but to be on the safe side I have uploaded all my photos to my friend's computer. It is a hard lesson to learn but I will be much more careful in future and when I get home the first thing I will do is go to buy another UV filter. Well worth every penny!!! However I don't intend to ever drop it again - I have learned my lesson and I don't think my camera could stand another drop like that.

One more full day here and then I head back to snowy icy Saskatchewan Oh well - New York awaits.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Pier to Pier




Well Sarah and I walked from the pier at Carolina Beach to the pier at Kure Beach this morning. It was about 7 km and took us 88 minutes. (93 if you count me stopping for a potty break half way) It was awesome. The wind was blowing (luckily at our backs) and the waves were fantastic with bits of foam blowing around at our feet and sandpipers dashing along the sand. It was exhilarating. I am so glad we did it.

After a great lunch the rest have gone off to look at a house and I am staying in to relax a bit.

By the way I saw Linda and Doug's friend Al yesterday from a distance but I can already tell he's not my type. Only five feet (I like my males tall), a bit on the lazy side (doesn't seem to have a job), a real loner and he looks like he could snap your head (or at least your hand) off if he felt like it.

The weather has been great but showers are predicted for the rest of my stay here - oh well better than the snow (shudder) that is happening at home.

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Howdy from North Carolina



l - Chimney Rock
r -Beautiful Biltmore Estate, Asheville


Well I've been here since last Tuesday but it's been a whirlwind of activity. Flew into Raleigh Tuesday night and stayed at an airport hotel. Took a city bus into Raleigh (because I'm cheap) which was fast and painless. Had a ham biscuit for late second breakfast/early lunch at Ed's in City Market (brains and eggs were on the menu but I resisted) - dragging my suitcase behind me. Greyhound charges $3 per bag per hour - forget that. Anyway went to the North Carolina History museum - I had visited there last time but there was a pirate exhibition on which was fantastic. Despite being immune to Johnny Depps' charms as a pirate I really do have this thing about pirates and vikings. Hmm.... Afterwards I sat in the sun for a while - it was mid 60's. Much different then Saskatchewan! Then I headed off to the bus depot. The bus depot was much calmer this time and bonus - the driver didn't get lost this time and Linda and family were there to greet me at Wilmington bus station. I announced to Linda that the driver didn't get lost and he was a comedian and he yelled "I heard that" :)

The next morning we headed for Asheville which is near the Blue Ridge mountains. Beautiful country!!! We stayed with Linda's son and family for three nights. Then Wii trivial pursuit - Linda and I got slaughtered but we got horrid questions. And that's the truth!

Friday afternoon we attended Adam's graduation - he is now a member of the Asheville Police department. It was very nice. That evening we went out for dinner to Chilis - yum. Afterwards we picked up coolers and went back to the house to play Wii Trivial Pursuit again. Doug and I kicked some serious butt - everyone said our questions were too easy. Sore losers! :)

Saturday Doug and Linda dropped me off at the Biltmore Estate and I had a fabulous time. It was built by George Vanderbilt in the late 1800's and is amazing. They had been there last year and said I must see it. Wow what a place and the landscaping was fantastic. Not at it's best in March but hey I still loved it. Daffodils of course and some azalea were coming up but in another couple of weeks it would be breathtaking. I did a 5 km walk in the gardens and really enjoyed myself. Even better - he treated his staff very well and even built a village outside the estate for them to live in. I had a fabulous peach ice cream cone to finish off my visit and Linda and Doug picked me up. Such service! :) That evening we went out to Red Lobster for a nice dinner.


This morning we headed back here via Chimney Rock State Park. We drove through some real hillbilly type places (some shops were called "Moonshine Place") and some gorgeous scenery. I even got to see Bat Cave - yep that's the name of the town. No sign of Batman or Robin though. Chimney Rock was beautiful - we took the elevator up as the stairs would have done my knees (and everyone else's) in. What a view! Then back here five hours later with a quick stop for lunch at the Atlanta Bread Company.

What a few days it's been - have enjoyed myself immensely. I hope to see the ocean tomorrow as they live just five minutes from Carolina Beach. Woo hoo!!!

Monday, March 16, 2009

One more sleep and it's another adventure

Well tomorrow I start my "Spring Fling" - three almost back to back trips. Then I will lay low for a while....I promise!

Tomorrow afternoon I am off to North Carolina for two weeks to visit my oldest and dearest friend Linda. We have been best buddies since we were toddlers - yep since I was two and she was three. Yes, she is a year older than me and let me tell you I never let her forget it. :)

Should be fun anyway - they are going to introduce me to their friend Al. Linda says he is about six feet tall plus with a strong jaw line and impressive teeth. I'm told he'd love to have me come to his place for dinner some evening. Stay tuned!!

Anyway I fly into Raleigh via Minneapolis and arrive at 10 p.m. I have a room booked at an airport hotel. Wed. morning I will make my way into Raleigh via public bus as there is no proper airport transit and I am too damn cheap to pay for a taxi. I'd rather use the money and have lunch at Clyde Cooper's Barbeque. I had lunch there last year while on my trip on the hound and enjoyed it. My bus to Wilmington doesn't leave until 3 p.m. Here's hoping the bus driver doesn't get lost trying to get there like the one last year did. Greyhound employees are so darn intelligent...NOT.

Anyway should be fun. This weekend we will be going to Ashville for their son Adam's graduation from police college. So not sure when I will get a chance to update my blog but rest assured I will be having me a good old time in the south. I am salivating at the thought of going back to the Golden Corral buffet - I ate so much last time I was in pain.

As long as I get to be by the ocean and get me some collard greens, sweet potatoe fries and peach cobbler I will be happy!

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Sunday morning

Totally lacking imagination for the name of this post. Here I am over a week back. I'm still not sleeping well - waking up very early. I think it's a combination of jeglag (not wanting to let go of English time) and the stress of the past week at work. We won't go into that here...let's just say one more week and then it's over. I made a decision while on vacation that will affect my bank balance but make my life happier. Yep, cutting down my retirement working hours. There are a lot of other options out there.

I intend to make my life simpler as well - how much simpler I can go is a question mark as I don't have a car nor do I own property - both matters of choice.

A friend at work told me about the blog of a lady who has retired and is living in Mexico -I am now addicted to reading it each day and to me her life sounds idyllic. Like me she does housesitting and petsitting. I think I would like to try it in a few years once my working days are over. Not year round probably but perhaps from November to May. Here is the link to her blog:

http://mexicodailyliving.blogspot.com/

For a while I have thought of taking a Spanish course in San Miguel de Allende just because it looks so darn pretty. Afterwards I would travel solo around the area by bus trying out my basic Spanish on unsuspecting Mexicans as well as seeing possible places to spend some cold Saskatchewan winters. That would give me a good idea of what to expect and if that would be something I would like to do.

I love my apartment and the location but someday I will pack everything into storage and off I will go. A new exciting chapter of my life. It just gets better and better!

Monday, February 16, 2009

She's outta control

Yep I am - spent most of the morning booking flights. Tried to use my NWA points to fly into North Carolina and out of Vegas with a cheap flight in between but they won't let me do that. I have to go in and out of the same area. Snarl....hiss! So luckily snagged a seat sale on West Jet to and from Vegas and then booked my freebie air miles flight to North Carolina. I was ready to punch my fist thrugh the computer screen though as my computer kept crashing when I would go to complete my purchase on the NWA site. If I booked it on the phone they would have charged me an extra $20 so I kept trying - I am cheap when it comes to stuff like that what can I say.

So in just one month and one day I am off for two weeks in North Carolina to visit my oldest friend Linda and her family. Can't wait!!! Gonna be fun, fun, fun and I will get my ocean fix too. As long as Al the Alligator stays in their backyard pond and doesn't join me for my morning coffee life will be good. Then two and a half weeks after I get back I am off to see Mr. McCartney at the opening of the new nightclub at the Hard Rock hotel in Vegas. Woo hoo.

Back to work tomorrow but it all has a purpose....

Sunday, February 15, 2009

What can I say

Less than 48 hours home and already working on the next trip. I managed to score not one but two tickets (one for my friend Pat) to see Paul McCartney in Las Vegas April 19th. He is opening up a new night club in the Hard Rock Hotel & Casino - standing room only seats. I GOTTA BE FRIGGIN NUTS!!!!! So now I am working out how to get there from North Carolina where I will be visiting my good friend Linda and then home on air miles - the back home on air miles isn't working too well. Ah well.....it's fun to be insane.

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Three countries in one day

Yep we all knew I am a jetsetter but you know you are when you have three currencies in your wallet and using them all the same day.

Morning came early yesterday...after enjoying the musical "Mama Mia" the night before I got up to discover that the fuse had blown at the B & B and except for my bedside lamp which was plugged into an outlet that wasn't affected the whole second floor was in darkness. Oh goodie - so I had my shower with just the light from outside (which at 5 a.m. isn't much) and worried about getting my "bag from hell" down the stairs in the dark. My fears were unfounded as I heard footsteps as I was getting dressed so Simon obviously knew about it and the problem was fixed. The taxi arrived on time and got me to the airport in half an hour flat. I was impressed. Haven't spent that much on a taxi but wow it was worth it. Had my last cappucino at Costa Coffee. :(

The flight to Minneapolis was all right but I've had better. A whole 'slew' of teenagers were flying over as well as a horrible toddler who barely quit screaming the whole time. As in having temper tantrums - it's handlers obviously had never heard of discipline. I was ready to put the kid out of it's misery with my pillow - no lie. (well I can't stand kids at the best of times). Even the flight attendant I commented to (jokingly) said "that kid is way out of control". The teenagers spent the time visiting in the aisles ignoring the flight attendant's requests to sit down when the seat belt sign was on. They even announced at the second meal service (lunch before we landed) "we will be serving meals for the next thirty minutes so please stay in your seat" and the kids were still up and around and the flight attendants made them stand behind them while they served - good for them. I saw a flight attendant afterwards in the airport and said "that was quite the flight with the teenagers and the screaming brat from hell" and she commented it was a terrible flight and had them pulling their hair out the entire time. Anyway we arrived in one piece.

At customs the inspector said I should go the Mall of America with my 8 hours between flights so that I did! I had lunch at Ruby Tuesdays, got my hair shampooed and cut - hey why not - and trudged around. I was too cheap to pay for a locker so hauled my backpack and between the exhaustion and the load I spent most of my time sitting down people watching. That was my third trip to the mall - quite the place. I think it would make a great "girls weekend away" - hint hint to my Minot buddies...

Then FINALLY my flight home - short and sweet and got through customs no probs and got a taxi right away. Stopped at a convenience store so I could get my milk and cream for coffee/tea and made it home in one piece despite dropping my wallet in the van and having the driver go back to the store so I could find it. What can I say after over 24 hours I was not in my right mind. Got my "bag from hell" up the stairs to my apartment and collapsed.

AWESOME AWESOME trip.

What can I say - good to be home but I know I will be itching to get away again SOON.

Because I am Restless Prairie Girl and that's what I do!

Stay tuned as I plan to edit each of my entries and put pictures in and more on what I thought of the amazing Middle East - I will also be updating Facebook so will put a link to that.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Fantasy time

Well today started off windy and rainy but while it's still cold and windy the sun has come out. After waiting for a taxi forever we finally got into Worthing and did a bit of shopping. I was let loose in Marks and Spencer and for lunch we are going to have Roasted Mushroom and carmelised onion pie and vegetable casserole with parsley dumplings - with brussel sprouts. And for dessert a hot apple crumble with double cream. Slurp! Can't wait!!!

I was able to go down to the beach and take some piccies of the English channel - so that was fun. Hope I didn't embarass Judi TOO much with my excitement!!! :)

I have already decided that Judi should get a dog and I will come over and look after it when she goes on holidays.

Tonight it's back to London and two more days before my wonderful holiday comes to an end. I will be so busy running around I might not have time to blog!!!

Monday, February 9, 2009

Chilling with champagne

Here I am in Lancing, W. Sussex with Judi - drinking champagne - it's a tough life. We are having a great visit and setting the world right. I am boring her with stories about my trip!! It's pouring buckets out there but we are snug and warm inside. I am spoiled and Judi is fixing roast chicken, potatoes and veggies for supper tonight.

Double episode of Corrie tonight - life is good!!

Tomorrow we will probably go into Brighton IF THE WEATHER BEHAVES and then back to London tomorrow night.

Hey, not complaining about the weather as next week at this time I will be freezing my ass off!!!

Sunday, February 8, 2009

Another day in paradise

Okay not quite....but had an enjoyable day. Not too cold here today - no wind anyway. It was a park day today - Hyde Park and Kensington Gardens.

I started off the day going to the doggie area at the park in Muswell Hill but only one dog to stalk...how sad. Anyway I sat outside in hope and had a coffee but nobody showed up. Oh well....

What can I say.....sounds like a boring day as not much to talk about and am very tired but it was good.

Saturday, February 7, 2009

A foodie day

Am full to bursting after a day of good food. Started this morning at the Borough market - well I wandered around and got myself a brownie (best brownie in the world..devoured it this afternoon) and a small bag of cherry tomatoes. I had a cooked breakfast at a nearby cafe as the market was too cold to spend any time in - had bubble and squeak which is potatoes with cooked vegetables in. Very good!! I then jumped on the bus and went to Hackney...just because....wanted to see what it looked like. I stopped to look at a church and was reading the description when a lady came up to me and said they are with the church and help those less fortunate and asked if I wanted any hot soup or coffee. I said no thank you and she said are you sure and patted my arm and I said no thanks I can buy my own soup. She said if you are sure and looked so concerned. Geesh I know my jacket is getting a bit travel weary and my hair was wind blown but didn't think I looked that down and out!!!!
Back into Central London and walked through St. James Park (my favourite park in London) and on through Green Park and then back to this area for a delicous veggie currie and garlic naan.
Burp!!!
Next is back to the room to catch up on my travel diary and start packing up.
I will be moving to another place Wed. so I can have easier access to Heathrow for Friday...six more sleeps. Waaaaa!!!! :(
Tomorrow I plan to head over to Hampstead and walk around there again and perhaps Primrose Hill, etc. We shall see how the spirit moves me.

Thursday, February 5, 2009

Hi from Oxford

Am in Oxford now - decided to go for it for a change of scene. It was snowing when I arrived so walked around and took photographs of the snow. Then I looked in the shops and had lunch at the covered market. Lots of book shops here so I was in heaven - I got a copy of one of my favourite travel writers new book and she is supposed to be at the travel show tomorrow so hope to get it autographed. All about her dog sledding in the Yukon - nothing like going to England to buy a book about Canada!!

My bus leaves in about an hour and a half so decided to pop in and check up on email and blog. The bus was very clean and it is the law here to do up seatbelts so felt much more secure than riding the hound. Plus the trip was much shorter than my usual hound trips - less than two hours. I bought a cherry loaf from a bakery in the market and I am salivating - can't wait to get back to the B & B and make a cup of tea and have a piece...or two. I hope it is as good as it looks.

I will definitely come back here on another trip when the weather is nicer as it's a very pretty city but not seen at it's best on a snowy day.

This afternoon I went to see the film "Slumdog Millionaire" which was really good - brought back memories of India for sure. I wanted to see it here being as it's a British film and very much in the news here - as well as England being the base I left for India from. Okay lame excuse but I always try to see a movie over here despite the horrible price. I just shut my eyes and hand the money over but it ain't cheap. It saves me going to see it in London as I am running out of time to do the things I want to do there. Normally I would not go to a movie on a day trip but it was warm and dry!!!

Tomorrow I am going to the travel show at Earl's Court Olympia so can't wait - I am sure I will get all sorts of ideas for my next adventure or two or three....

One part of me is glad to be going home to see my friends, make coffee in my own coffee maker, (yea strange what you miss....) check out what's been happening but the other part of me doesn't want to leave! I wish I was wealthy so I could stay longer. I wandered around Marks and Spencers today drooling over all the ready meals they have here. I wish I had access to an oven or a nuker at least. Plus the wonderful brussel sprouts - okay I am a bit obsessed with them but oh my they look so damn good compared to home. Well I like the food here better than home I must admit. I know England has a bad reputation for food - or did have - but not anymore. London has every kind of food you could ever want.

So looking forward to tomorrow - a day at the travel show, a double episode of Corrie and it's my eat at home night (too damn expensive here to eat out every day) which means a prawn mayonnaise sandwich (YUM!) and a little bag of either parsnip crisps or root vegetable crisps. I discovered the crisps (English word for our chips) this trip (they must be new) and they are YUMMY. Plus a bottle of fresh cox apple juice - slurp!!! Life is good!!!!

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Chaos in Cairo

Well an early start - Lorraine and Mark knocked on my door and said a final goodbye and I was dressed and ready to go. (they were due to be picked up at 6:30) A few minutes later my phone rang and the taxi was there for me even though it wasn't booked until 7. So off I went - got to the airport at 7:15 and the airline did not open up until 8 a.m. They would not let me into the check in area - it was secured with a guard who would not let me in. So had to sit and wait. Finally got checked in but only got a boarding pass as far as Cairo as my flight to London was with BMI - part of the Star Alliance with Egypt Air. (as Air Canada is) The flight to Cairo was okay and I even got a meal (free) for the 75 min. flight - which was a lucky thing.
In Cairo we got to arrivals and all transits were bussed to the transit area. As I was walking in a fellow looked at my ticket and said "flight cancelled, bad weather London - number three, get luggage and go to hotel". I am like 'what". Trying to ask him what is going on, is it rescheduled but he ignored me. Anyway he led me outside and put me on a bus that took me to arrivals. He kept saying number three number three. I'm like what is going on - had to wait in line and go through customs and of course they didn't let me in as I had no valid visa - mine had been used. the customs guy rolled his eyes at me and jabbed his thumb towards the so called transit area there. You don't want to know what I was muttering at this point but it wasn't very nice. Of course the person at the transit area there had no clue so put me on another bus - guess where to. Back there I was absolutely fuming and nearly in tears with frustration. I could not find anyone who spoke English I could understand and not only that they took away my passport and ticket - I was told later because I had no visa and who knows I might want to stay in the country illegally (NOT). I had to go to the bathroom so badly and dying of thirst so took care of those problems all the time worried about what was going on. I kept going to talk to a different person each time and found one who spoke English and explained my flight was cancelled and the other 12:45 flight was delayed. He said probably it would get cancelled so they would send us to a hotel. While I was standing there they paged London passengers to come to the gate so they all came and were herded up and taken to a hotel - all except the few of us who did not have a visa. (was told later that once they got to the hotel and were checking in they were hauled out again and told that the flight was now going) We had to wait around. I started talking to a fella in the same situation as me - he'd be travelling from South Africa since the previous evening so was exhausted. We got the ticket agent to let us call London (I wasn't supposed to tell anyone they let me!) so I was able to get ahold of Simon (B & B guy) and tell him I'd be late. At that point I got my passport, ticket back and a boarding pass as well as my luggage tag changed. Anyway they gave us vouchers to MacDonalds of all places. Yuck. So MacDonalds two days in a row when I never eat there. (my system rebeled the next day) Anyway there ended up with four of us sitting together - two men from Sudan joined us and we talked about everything. It passsed the time. I was also chatting to an English fellow and he is the one who came running up to us and said the flight is loading. No announcement! This was 5:45. We took off at 7.

I had a row all to myself so was able to stretch out. That was the good part. The meal was vile but of course I had that "good" MacDonalds meal inside me to keep me going.

Arrived into Heathrow and no line for customs - more good news. I tried reaching Simon but the line was busy, busy. A fellow let me use his mobile on the tube so I talked to Simon's wife. I worried the whole time that I would not get to Golders Green on time to get the last bus to the B & B.

Well I got there and no bus....(found out later it wasn't running that day because of the storm) so luckily I was able to get a taxi cruising by. A miracle as they aren't that common. Someone was watching out for me. I get to the B & B - lights on so I thought "good". NOT. I rang the bell, pounded on the door and nothing - finally after five minutes (felt like twice that) Rosie answered apologizing saying they had fallen asleep. I was so upset thinking here I am at 12:30 at night with no place to sleep and utterly exhausted.

Anyway it was good to get to bed. I didn't even try dragging my suitcase up the stairs - just threw off my clothes and fell into bed.

And that's the end of my story.

Back in London

Nightmare trip back but made it. Will post more on it later. It was a gong show in Cairo - I flew from Amman via Cairo and the flight was cancelled due to snow here and talk about disorganized there. Yikes. I spent yesterday in bed as have a bad cold and felt horrid. Today is a bit better - my legs are a bit shaky but desparate times call for desparate measures. I have no clean clothes - your clothes get very dirty/sandy/dusty in the Middle East!!! So off to the laundromat to spend another ten pounds again.

The snow is melting now (although the park opposite me is still covered and kids were out making snowmen yesterday) but guess it was a nightmare on Monday. Supposed to be more later this week...oh goodie. Things come to a standstill here as they are just not prepared for it.

I am due to go to Oxford tomorrow on Megabus - had booked my pound each way trip a few weeks back. Will see how I feel - had planned to do a 10km walk there but can't see that happening but I may go and bop around a bit and lurk in coffee shops. For the price why not.

I had to miss seeing the musical "Billy Elliot" last night as I felt too rotten. Simon, the host of the B & B was going out anyway so I gave him a little list of a sandwich, banana and juice so at least I got to eat something. On the bright side maybe I lost a little weight - yeah right.

A lucky American couple is next to me so between my snoring and coughing bet they had a good night's sleep. Oh well they were friendly and we sat for an hour over breakfast exchanging travel war stories.

Anyway I am off to the launderette to wash the remnents of Egypt and Jordan off my clothes.

Once I feel a bit better and my sense of humour returns I will post "Chaos in Cairo".

Tarrah!!!!

Sunday, February 1, 2009

Amman

Here I am in Amman, Jordan - my last full day in the Middle East as I fly back to London tomorrow. It's been a great tour and such a positive thing for me - full of all sorts of new experiences, making new friends, seeing fantastic sights, learning more about a culture so foreign from ours but learning we are all the same inside. It's been great. Some of the people on our tour have been having a problem with accomodations, food, etc. but when you stay in hostels and the bathroom is down the hall you can put up with anything. Hey, I get my own bathroom every night to myself - yay. I thought we are going to have a mutiny on our hands last night - you get what you pay for.

Must confess I was just at Mickey D's as it's close to the hotel. Never thought I'd do that as I hate it but oh well...tonight is our farewell dinner with the group so should be fun.

Up early tomorrow as I get taken to the airport at 7 a.m. It will be sad to say goodbye to everyone knowing I will probably never see them again.

This morning we toured Jerash - a Roman city north of Amman. Interesting (I was imagining the chariots roaring about!) but we were all tired, sick or grumpy - or all three. Being on the road is hard work!!!

Yesterday was fun fun fun. The best part was floating in the Dead sea. I stayed in long enough to have the requisite picture taken but was paranoid about getting water in my eyes. Weird to be able to sit in the water and bob around! We then slathered up with the mud and after 10 minutes went into the water to wash off. We then spent the rest of our time going down the water slide at the pool and hollering like kids. (okay it was just me hollering!) I forgot to mention that a few days ago (losing track of time) we went snorkelling in the Red Sea. Okay mine was more splashing around and falling down in the water walking in my fins - Libby and I provided entertainment for the locals who were photographing us. I had problems breathing again so just bobbed around a bit - we wore wet suits. I had my photo taken in mine and will put it on my fridge to prevent me from overeating - let's just say it's pretty damn scary!!!

Anyway it's been quite the experience. Jordan is more prosperous than Egypt. It is funny as in Egypt when they ask where I am from they say "Canada Dry" without fail. In Jordan it is sweet as they say "You're welcome". I must say I like the Jordanians better than the Egyptians. Jordan is the one country in the world that has a good relationship with every country in the world - not neutral like Switzerland is but actually a positive relationship. Of course they get a lot of foreign aid which they have used to build hospitals and schools. 85% of their population gets free health care which is awesome.

I think I will miss hearing the call to prayer and the people of the Middle East will always have a special place in my heart. It's a tough place to live. For the first time in my life I kissed my Canadian passport.

Will post more on my trip and my thoughts on it with pictures when I get home.

Friday, January 30, 2009

I kissed a camel!

Well we are in Petra now....just back from visiting the ancient city of Petra Wow. It would take you days to see it all so we had to content ourselves with visiting a bit of it. Fantastic. The highlight was seeing the treasury....a beautiful rose colour. 200 photos later.....of course a lot were of donkeys, camels, a puppy - heck even a cat. really a highlight in my life seeing this place. Amazing. It's one of the seven wonders of the world - modern that is.

In another hour or so I will be going to a turkish bath - a first for me. No modesty allowed so should be interesting.

And yes I kissed a camel - he was a nice one. we were in Wadi Rum yesterday - gorgeous red sand and sandstone monoliths. wonderful. please excuse the lack of capitals - this keyboard is probably clogged with dust as it"s everywhere here anyway we took a four wheel drive tour of the place and it was great fun>

our hotel here leaves a bit to be desired _ they are fixing my shower now> they assured me they were going to fix it today and when I checked it out I got sprayed in the face> oh well>

well will sign off before I go postal on this keyboard>

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Hello from the desert

Starkness of Sinai region
Hotel pool

Am in St. Catherines right now - having a very quick and expensive internet session. Thanks everyone for your emails but I probably won't be able to answer them until I am in London now as internet access will be limited.

We are in the Sinai which is beautiful in a very stark way. Staying in a beautiful hotel with a huge pool. I am the only one not climbing Mt Sinai in the morning so will be able to enjoy the hotel. With my bad knees no way am I climbing and they start at 3 a.m. to see the sunrise. I've seen the pictures and it does not inspire me. I am saving my knees for the Monestary at Petra. I am looking forward to enjoying the facilities here especially as none of us liked our hotel in Cairo. The buffet tonight was wonderful.

Funniest sight today.....two camels kneeling in the back of a pick up truck. No one had time to pull out their camera as they whizzed by too quickly unfortunately.

Yesterday we had a tour of Christian and Muslim Cairo which was interesting. Saw a place where Mary, Joseph and Jesus hung out for a few days as well as a gorgeous mosque. Afterwards a few of us went to the famous market - we stopped first and had a wonderful traditional drink - yogurt and cream with spices and nuts and raisins. Then we walked around and were constantly harassed to buy something which I didn't. "Let me take your money" was the best line I heard. We then had lunch in a lovely restaurant - I had lentil soup and bread with fresh strawberry juice. We took the metro back but finding it was something else....we walked for about half an hour through crowds of people. It was awful! The sidewalks are not even and they are high so my knees were not happy going up an down. Cairo is not a city I like!!!

Tomorrow we head for Jordan on the ferry - we are warned to be prepared for a LONG wait! From there it's on to Wadi Rum, Petra, floating in the dead sea and Amman. Can't wait!!!! I guess I have to put away my capri pants for the trip though as it will be colder in Jordan.

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Hello from Cairo

Amazing Abu Simbel





Well back in Cairo after an overnight train journey from Aswan.

Yesterday afternoon we had a ride on a traditional Nubian felucca (sailboat) which was fun - we had a picnic on board with some good bread (finally - so far it's been nothing but white sweet bread) and lots of dips and cheese. Yum! The felucca had a huge mattress on it so I spent most of the time laying down and relaxing after our early morning. We had a break at a Nubian coffee shop where I had a ginger coffee - espresso with ginger. Delish! The rest climbed a sand hill while there but I gave my knees a rest. I did hold a baby (3 years old) crocodile though - long enough to get my picture taken. Cold, soft and wet - shudder. Well he was kind of cute in a repulsive slimey way.

We had gotten up at 2:45 am to head out for Abu Simbel - it was a three hour journey each way and we had to go in a convey of vehicles for safety reasons. It is close to the Sudan border so they don't want any Sudanese rebals to get any kidnapping ideas so this is "safety in numbers" reasoning. Anyway the temple was absolutely amazing with gigantic statues of Ramses II (or III?) on the outside and all sorts of carvings (called reliefs) inside. I think it was my favourite yet. And the most special bit was that it was due to be flooded back in the early 60's due to the building of the Aswan High Dam. So the world got together and donated money for the temple to be taken apart bit by bit and put back together again at a safer location on the newly created (from the dam) Lake Nasser. Really something. It was a three hour bus trip each way so we were pretty tired last night - and then we had to get on the shakey noisy train. We miss our beloved Melodie boat already!

This afternoon we are going to downtown Cairo with someone in our group who is studying Arabic here. She will show us a "Fair trade" area for shops and then we will have lunch - Egyptian fast food. (probably falalfel) Then tonight we are all going out for an Egyptian meal. Our meals have been sort of half aEgyptian/half western so far. Our train was late this morning but we passed through villThe ages that we were able to see which was so interesting. People here are friendly. Getting used to hearing the Call to Prayer.

I am tending to hang out with people as still not comfortable walking around Cairo on my own. Me a gal who loves the big city - but not Cairo - it is not on my top ten favourite cities that is for sure!

Well that's all for now.

Friday, January 23, 2009

Sailing on the Nile part 2

Doing this in two posts in case the computer crashed. Anyway after a couple of dances most of our group sat on the deck and had a discussion with Carolyn, our group leader on Islam women, customs, etc - all very interesting.

Our group is great - we all get along really well and have a lot of laughs.

The markets are interesting - Carolyn pointed out some good places to buy in the market in Luxor so I got some scarves as well as some jewellry made out of local stone - nothing expensive. She pointed out the "manic t-shirt guy" and he was - I did not want any of the t-shirts that he had and he was chasing us across the street. Not in a scary way - but in a funny way. The sellers can be a pain though and they are like flies that won't leave you alone. One guy said "I have lots of good rubbish at good price" - have to laugh at that - another one was "how can I take your money". And at the end of the day they are just ordinary people trying to make a living so you have to respect that. Everywhere you go they are trying to get you to take their taxi, horse & carriage or go in their shop. Just heard a good one a few minutes back - one horse and carriage driver yelled out "Egyptian Ferrari".

Another challenge is remembering not to flush the toilet paper down the toilet as the sewer system cannot handle it - it goes in the garbage. This was the case in India and Peru as well.

I think after tonight I will be "templed out" but they are very interesting.

I will miss the relaxation of sitting on the top deck of our Melodie and watching the life on the beautiful Nile.

Sailing on the Nile

Our boat - the "Melodie"
Our "flasher"

Rocky and me


Well actually we are finished our sail and are now in Aswan. Still living on our boat but not going any further south. It's been a terrific few days. Our donkey ride to the Valley of the Kings and back was great fun. When we were nearly at the Valley it was the Donkey Derby as they knew we were getting into the home stretch. My donkey who I named Mr. Higgins (sadly they had no names other than Mr or Mrs. Donkey) was very open to suggestions so a click of the tongue or "alla" from someone else would send him trotting. He also liked pushing in between other donkeys. Coming back my donkey ("Rocky" - I should have named the one going there Rocky!) was much more sedate although he did steal some clover from a wagon. The trip back was through villages which was fun. We toured three tombs in the Valley of the Kings - unbelieveable. I had to buy a small book as we could not take photographs and I wanted something to remember them by.

The boat cruise has been very enjoyable and we have spent much time relaxing on the upper deck watching life on the Nile as we pass by. We even had a little flasher - photo above. I was able to photograph people living their lives along the shores of the Nile with my new zoom lens so it was worth the investment and postponing the purchase of a new TV! The weather has gotten warmer the further we head south.

This morning a few of us took the flerry over to Elphantine island and visited a Nubian village.
I found it very interesting although some found the trash piled about and the general 'stinkiness' of the place disturbing. So we didn't stay as long as I perrsonally would have liked but didn't feel like wandering around on my own either as it would be very easy to get lost. But like I've said once you've been to India nothing shocks you anymore. That's the way they live as facilities are limited - but it's their home so I show respect. If you want things the way they are at home stay there!

Later we will visit Philae temple for the sound and light show. Tomorrow is Abu Simbel -up at 2:45 a.m. for the three hour bus trip!!! Followed by a felucca ride on the Nile and then we get the train back to Cairo tomorrow night.

Last night was Egyptian night on the boat so our whole group dressed up. I bought a turquoise blue beaded dress along with a beaded head scarf (like I will ever wear that again but hey sometimes you just gotta do some crazy things!) - some Nubian dancers came in and we had a great time dancing with them. Anyone not on the dance floor was on by the time the DJ came on and played "Dancing Queen". Great fun. Later had an interesting discussion with Caroline about Muslim women.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Yeah Toto you're right - definitely not in Kansas




Anyway the boat is okay - nothing fancy. My room is okay - should be intersting to take a shower later today as there is really no shower area - the whole tiny bathroom is one. Anyway we went on a tour of the Karnak temple this morning which was AMAZING. Everyone was blown away. 134 decorated columns which had your mouth wide open plus too many statues to mention - it's something else. We all agreed that this was MUCH better than the pyramids! Plus we had an excellent guide who was a real character. Said he was a direct descendant of King Ramses and he nominated me as his queen so I had to stand beside him mostof the time. :) Unfortunately he was about 65 years old. I guess he was in a Bond film so must rent it and look for him. I reminded him of a friend so that's why I was chosen as his queen - anyway he was full of knowledge and my head is still spinning from all the stories. Finally he let us loose for 45 mins. to look around and take photographs - and that I did. It's one of the most spectacular things I've seen in my life and I have seen a few believe you me.

http://www.touregypt.net/karnak.htm - here's a bit of a taste.

Back to the boat via a store (can't say what kind as I bought some gifts to be a surprise for certain people!) and then lunch. I walked over here on my own - brave girl! Had to stop at the ATM and of course got honked at by taxi drivers, guys wanting to take me to stores, etc. but hey I've been to India and can handle anything now. :) Later we are going walking to the market with the guide so that will be fun as I adore markets. Dinner at 7 and a relaxing evening for me as we are up early tomorrow morning to visit the Valley of the Kings with our same guide. On DONKEYS. Am so excited as I am obsessed with donkeys. Then once we get back we set sail so tomorrow aft. will be sunning ourselves on the deck. It's not really hot - about 22C which is perfect. Capri pants and short sleeve weather!!!

Queen Laurie signing off for now....