Sunday, August 19, 2012

Cambodia...here I come!

Last Tuesday I went to my travel agent and booked a 13 day Intrepid tour in Cambodia for the 20th of January.  I am awaiting final confirmation from my travel agent.  I will leave the tour in Sinnoukeville on Day 11, stay on for a day or two then journey down the road to Kep where I have booked into the Kep Lodge  for five nights for some R & R.  Back to Phnom Penh for two nights then I fly home.  I plan to be gone about three and a half weeks.  Not my usual month plus vacation but that's okay....more things happening in the Spring. (I hope!!)

This tour is land only as all the tours I've taken lately are.  No flights booked yet but I have a good idea when I am going and with what airline - Air Canada through Seoul comes up the cheapest and I get aeroplan points as well.

I am really excited to explore Cambodia and meet the people - I have heard the people there are wonderful despite all they have been through. I haven't been to South East Asia since 1990...a long time and way overdue.  I had toyed with the idea of going to Phuket and volunteering at the Soi Dog shelter there.  However with the extra cost of flights and accommodation I am better off giving a few more dollars their way.  I really admire their efforts taking care of the street dogs in Thailand.

Now with three trips in the works I have lots to look forward to - and lots to save for!!!






Sunday, August 12, 2012

Waiting for October!

My favourite place to be in the good weather.
Well time is going quickly and I am enjoying this summer so much.  I spend as much time as I can on my balcony which I absolutely adore.   I just finished a three week stint of full time work but now that is over with.  Now it will be three days a week then next month back to two days a week.  Yippee!!!  I do love summers in Saskatchewan and am keeping busy.  In another post I will spill all on the things I have been up to.

But this is travel news.  I have now finalized all the details on my midwestern trip in October.  I fly down to Chicago on Wednesday October 17th where I will be taking care of my friend's dog Casper from October 20th to 27th.  I will go a couple of days early to get him used to me and spend time with my friends there.  I look forward to lots of doggie walkies, eyeballing the firemen in the fire hall across the street and exploring Chicago at my leisure. Then on Monday the 29th I head off to Springfield, Illinois and do the walk there and visit the Abraham Lincoln museum.  Then on to Jefferson City, Missouri - another walk there.  Oh this is NOT the hound but Amtrak!  Jefferson City is not served by the Greyhound - only train service so decided to do the train the whole way down.  That will be fun for a change.  Then onto St. Louis overnight.  I have been to St. Louis and really liked it and if you can like a city when it is crippled after an ice/snow storm well you know it's true love. :)  I will redo the walk there under hopefully more pleasant circumstances. (ie: not wading through piles of thick slushy snow)  I wish I had more time to spend in St. Louis than just one day but alas it's not to be this time.   I will take the night bus to Frankfort, Kentucky where, yes I will do the walk there.  Do you see a theme here?  Yes except for St. Louis - I am visiting all capital cities.   On to Indianapolis for two nights and then back home.  I was able to get a flight home for just under $200 - I am still in shock.  I will fly home on November 5th.  I am really excited about seeing more of the midwest.  Originally I had hoped to visit Columbus, Ohio and Charleston W.V. but due to finances and time I have decided to forego those for the time being.  But I will get there someday!!!  I am making this 50 state walking thing a lifetime project  - there is no rush.   There are too many other places in the world to explore as well.  Another reason for cutting short this trip - I must have my winter holiday.  But talk about that will have to wait for a while.....


Another jaunt to Alberta

Late June/early July saw me taking two trips to Alberta one weekend after the other.  Yes it would have made more sense to do them together but work got in the way.  And work pays for this fun. 

So Friday morning July 6th I hopped the (Grey) hound to Lethbridge, Alberta to visit my cousin and her family and most importantly - to see my 91 year old Uncle Tony.   It was a nice treat to take the bus during the day instead of the night bus I usually take.  Also they have now improved the connections in Medicine Hat so I can now change there instead of going all the way to Calgary and down. As you know I do love my hound trips.

Canola in the fields in Southern Saskatchewan
   In Medicine Hat the bus hadn't arrived yet so there was time for a quick trip to the coffee shop across the road for a Chai Latte and of course a potty stop.  We then got caught in construction on the highway so were about an hour late.  Joanne, my cousin was there to greet me however and back we went to their place to be greeted by Maggie, their adorable pooch.   I "checked" into the lovely guest bedroom, changed and we sat and had a cold glass of lemonade. 
My cousin Maggie!!!  She is adorable as you can see for yourself!  And like every doggie she loves her walkies!

Jerrold barbequed steaks that evening - Jerrold is definitely king of the barbeque - the man knows what he is doing!!  And we added some gin to that lemonade and life was good!!!  Had a great relaxing evening with Joanne and Jerrold. 

The next morning after breakfast Joanne and I went to visit Uncle Tony in his nursing home - it was so good to see him again and we had a nice visit.  Uncle Tony  moved to Lethbridge to be closer to Joanne about three years ago.  He lived in Regina from 1946 to 2009!!! So as always I took him a copy of the Regina Leader Post to read.  Uncle Tony is from England and is a real English gentleman.  They don't make them like him anymore...not what I've seen in England lately anyway....

Uncle Tony and me.
 After our visit I took Joanne out for lunch to the Cheesecake factory.  We sat outside in what was the best outdoor patio I have ever been in - wow.  Sofas, a fountain, a fire place (not that we needed it that day!) - it was amazing.  The food (quiche) was pretty darn good too.  We shared a piece of orange cream cheesecake with chocolate sauce on...oh my my my...

We then went shopping and I got myself a couple of badly needed new tops.  Joanne and I always go shopping together and it's lots of fun. 

That evening we went to friends of Joanne and Jerrold's for a barbeque which was delicious.   I always enjoy meeting new people.  Terry and Ross have a lovely home with a pool - although none of us took advantage of it.  An enjoyable evening and fun to see a part of Lethbridge I hadn't been in before. 

Sunday morning it was training day so I got up early, had a quick wash and a quick breakfast and I was off.  Today I needed to do 12 km.  I walked to the start point of the Lethbridge walks which was the Days Inn then off I headed to Henderson Lake.  The day before I had picked up a map of Lethbridge and mapped out my route.   I was too nervous to walk in the coulees due to rattlesnakes - yes I am paranoid and am terrified of snakes.  Well karma or whatever came back to bite me as what do I see but a guy walking with a boa constrictor around his neck.  He sat on a bench so thought whew - well I carried on and he started walking behind me.  Wow talk about power walking - don't think I have walked that fast in my life!!  Luckily he turned off on another path.  Anyway the Dragon boat races were on which was interesting to see all where they were from and the outfits they were wearing but the races themselves....BORING.  I have always thought that.  After the walk around the lake I decided to visit the Nikka Yuko Japanese Gardens which were right there.  I had never visited them.  They were quite lovely but you need more time to sit and meditate and reflect to appreciate them and I was on a schedule.

Downtown Lethbridge on a Sunday morning...


Quick view of part of the Coulees and the huge Railway bridge Lethbridge is famous for.

Man and his best friend  (NOT a snake!) at Henderson Lake

Japanese Garden

Japanese Garden
Japanese Garden

 Back I walked to Joanne's where I had a most welcome shower and lunch. 

Later that afternoon Becky and Jonathan,  two of Joanne and Jerrold's children came over for a barbeque. (it was a real barbeque weekend which works for me as I love them!)  Joanne had a little party for me as well - another birthday party!!  We had BBQ chicken and a lovely fruit and  cream birthday cake.  Joanne and Jerrold gave me a beautiful necklace and earrings and Uncle Tony gave me all kinds of bubble bath and lotions.

The next morning I sat in their lovely backyard and read for a while and then around 10:30 Jerrold drove me to the bus depot.  I had a four hour layover in Medicine Hat so walked down to the river and sat and relaxed. and then had a nice steak sandwich for lunch in a cafe downtown. I really like Medicine Hat (The name "Medicine Hat" is the English translation of 'Saamis' (SA-MUS) – the Blackfoot word for the eagle tail feather headdress worn by medicine men – or 'Medicine Hat'.   It is an overlooked city - one that people drive through (I plead guilty to that) on their way to Calgary and beyond but it really deserves a proper visit.  An uneventful trip back.

South Saskatchewan River
Gas lamps abound in downtown Medicine hat
 Thank you Joanne, Jerrold and Maggie for a wonderful weekend!!!! 

Friday, August 10, 2012

Goodbye Edmonton...

Well probably goodbye but never say never....my sister is moving to Toronto at the end of August so being as my niece lives there as well I will be heading there a lot more in the future.  So I decided to go up and see Colleen and say goodbye to Edmonton.  I have a soft spot for Edmonton - I lived there while going to school in 1970-71.   You can keep Calgary...I much prefer Edmonton - by a long shot.

Anyway...I flew off  Friday June 28th stopping in Calgary on the way and took the bus/LRT and then walked to my sister's place. (hey $8 as opposed to $18 - works for me)  We had salad and sandwiches for lunch at Colleen's then off we went downtown to check out the Works (arts & design festival) going on downtown.
City Hall in Edmonton

We then toured the Art Gallery.  As I've mentioned previously I am a philistine when it comes to art - I don't understand modern art.  I just like a nice picture.  So most of it went over my head....

Edmonton art gallery
 We then headed to the Southgate Mall which has been renovated since I was there last.  I didn't bother with the West Edmonton Mall - been there, done that tons of times - my sister lived in West Edmonton in the 80's and early 90's and was a ten minute walk from the mall so it was just the local mall.  I had a little bit of a Bath and Body Works fix - I had to restrain myself due to having to fit it into my carry on (which certainly was not a carry on going home...) wheelie suitcase.  We had supper at the food court.


Registering for the walk
Thee were the steps!!! 
The next morning David from the St. Albert Trekkers picked me up with Verni from Vancouver in the passenger seat.  People in our walking club (world wide!) are wonderful and David generously offered to pick me up.  Off we went to an area close to Fort Edmonton Park to do the CVF 25th Anniversary walk.  I did the 10km walk which was lovely - even if it did involve going up 200 steps!!!

 It was over a new pedestrian bridge on the North Saskatchewan river and along trails.  An area that me as a tourist would never get to - that's the beauty of Volkssport.  I really enjoyed it and got to see some old walking friends and meet new ones.
 Following the walk there was a BBQ but I was meeting Colleen at Fort Edmonton Park.  Well in retrospect I should have had lunch as Colleen's taxi was late and it turned out she had eaten lunch so I made do with a so so egg salad sandwich in one of the "hotels".  I hadn't been to Fort Edmonton Park since 1977 and they had expanded it.  More "streets" that went up to the 1920's - it started out with the actual fort which is what I had seen back then.  Very interesting but it was so hot - we were worn out.  We went back to the apartment and just relaxed.

Enjoyable walk
Fort Edmonton back it it's "heyday"

Bunk house - note the Hudson Bay blanket!

I  used to fantasize about riding in a stage coach but never got into this one!

 Sunday morning we relaxed until it was time to go for brunch at Zinc which is in the art gallery.  I treated as this was Colleen's retirement meal. Very elegant.  Brunch was a three course meal.   I will let the pictures tell the story!!!
Parfaits and puff pastries to start. We shared this plate.

Next course:  cheese, fruit and prune compote.  We shared this plate.

Lobster benedict - this was mine - all mine!; Colleen had salmon benedict. 

 From there we walked home and changed and went off to celebrate Canada Day at the Legislative Buildings.  I must point out here that Colleen is a downtown dweller like me so everything is close by.  Due to rain earlier in the day it wasn't very crowded so we sat and listened to the music - did we enjoy it?  Well that's another story!!!   We had every intention of going back for the fireworks but we were both tired and as it turned out we could see most of them from Colleen's balcony.

Alberta Legilative Buildings on Canada Day

Patriotic pride!

Showing off my Canadian flag socks.

Like Saskatchewan, Alberta's Legislative Building is celebrating its 100th anniversary.
Monday morning off we went to walk in the Mill Creek area.  We walked from Colleen's apartment and did about 8 km.  The Edmonton river valley is really quite lovely. 

Colleen walking along the path.

Lovely shaded path.

Taking a break. A photo break that is!!!
We both really enjoyed the walk and afterwards walked to Whyte Avenue where we caught the bus to a New Orleans themed restaurant called Dadeo.  I had a catfish poboy.  Very good!!!  Colleen treated us which was nice.  After a browse on Whyte Avenue (no shopping as both of us just had a bit of cash on us) we went back to the apartment.  After a couple of hours I headed out again to do a bit more walking and get views of the river valley.   We then headed back to Whyte Avenue and went to see the film "The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel" at the Princess theatre.  What can I say, I love that film!!!
 
 I really like you Edmonton!
And I'm really going to miss you....

The next morning I took the bus back to Whyte Avenue armed with more cash (and a credit card for good measure!)..I had seen a light switch plate of a sunflower I had fallen in love with so Colleen bought that for me as part of my birthday gift. It is on my wall now and I love it.   I also got myself a few little things such as birthday cards, a couple of new scents for my scent burner...(I don't burn candles as I am terrified of fire).  Whyte Avenue has some great murals as well so had to photograph them.  Well as much as you can "photograph" with a point and shoot...yep I left the DSLR at home...but I really didn't miss it.   I just always feel so inadequate when I am taking a picture beside someone with a DSLR - invariably I have to tell them 'I have one of those at home'.  We then went for Colleen's birthday lunch to a diner downtown that I can't remember the name of...oh well - we also looked around a bit downtown before heading back.  Then it was time to head home...Colleen came with me on the LRT and bus.  It is very handy now that Edmonton has a bus go from the airport to the LRT station closest to it.  Edmonton's airport is ridiculously far out of the city.

Back home again but what a fun weekend.  Bye bye Edmonton.....

Monday, August 6, 2012

Turning 60....

Well I can't believe it's been about six weeks since I've blogged.  Naughty, naughty.   Life is pretty busy these days - am working full time doing relief work for three weeks.  This full time thing blows but I do like the money because we all know what I like to spend it on. :)

Anyway these days I am enjoying the delights of Regina in the summer time - don't laugh, they are great.  I am enjoying my huge balcony very very much.  In fact it is calling me now but I am resisting it's charms..on second thought I guess I could be out there on my netbook...no, no...I will stay here. 

My training for the QCM half marathon on September 9th is on track - yesterday I did 18km out at Regina Beach.  Yes I've got wheels for the weekend.  I am taking some friends to Moose Jaw this afternoon so hope to do the 10km walk there but we shall see how the body likes that...

I turned 60 almost three weeks ago...I did not go quietly.  I had two parties and two outings..it was amazing.  I am so lucky to have such wonderful friends.  Good friends, good health, a part time job I enjoy, a nice place to live, close access to my beloved Wascana Park... and of course the opportunity to travel..what more could a gal want?

Both of my parties were English themed - everyone knows me and my obsession with all things English... here are a few pictures...

Some of my loot...I got two of the Union Jack garbage cans and both are filled with tea!!!



Tiramisu at Taste of Tuscany

Girlfriends at the party my friend Kathy threw for me



 My friends at a surprise party thrown for me in late June.   I had NO clue it was happening...or I would have dressed better!  I thought we were going out for Norma's birthday and I decided I was going to walk home from the restaurant to get in my training walk.  They had a good laugh about that one - I could barely walk period after the evening was over!!! 


I would post photos here but am having problems with transferring the zip files...

MY FRIENDS ROCK!!!

As if July wasn't busy enough I was away for two weekends in Alberta.  More on that in other posts!!!