Saturday, September 30, 2006


i'm in australia!!!! it's the beginning of spring and everything is in bloom. and in the birdfeeder outside the house, there are king parrots and rosellas! i'm staying with my aunt's brother, and if it weren't for the wildlife outside, i would swear that i am in canada (we've spoken more french than i have in the last 5 months).

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

vancouver and the islands part 2

so the sunday, i headed out with the cousin's daughter, jenn, again and this time we went to the aquarium. it was really cool. they had a lot of plant and animal life from the georgia strait (the body of water between vancouver and the gulf islands.

we then went to granville island and did a little bit of shopping. it's the artsy district with all sorts of little shops where you can find anything you need, including origami paper. i then was dropped off at some friends house. they are a couple that my parents know from yellowknife and the only ppl i know in the area that are family friends and not danish! so i had a nice sunday dinner with an italian-ukranian family. it was really nice.
monday was a planning day to get some things organized for the next week and for australia. then on tuesday i used the voucher i got for the ferry to head off to garbriola island, an island just across from nanaimo. the last time i went there was 6 yrs ago and b/c of a miscommunication, i waiting 6 hours at the ferry terminal for ferries arriving from vancouver rather than waiting at the terminal for ferries going to gabriola. nanaimo has 3 different ferry terminals! the bc police were alerted and everyone was looking for me but not at the right place. so this time i got myself to the island and enjoyed being there a lot. i read, played cards, went for walks and picked up a few nice shells. the only bad day i had for weather was that wednesday but it wasn't too bad, as long as you had a good rain coat. this is the view at low tide of a shoreline on gabriola.

after gabriola, i headed to parksville a town about 20 minutes north of nanaimo. it's apparently a really nice place to retire to. and has the best beach on the east side of vancouver island. it must because i got a major sunburn on my back while playing on the beach there when i was 4. i was visiting a danish friend who was origianlly from montreal. but since she is retired, she was busy doing a lot of volunteering. so i went for a walk on the beach and found my first sand dollar ever. it's a shell that is round and flat and is really fragile.
there was a lot of life on the beach during low tide. a lot of crabs and hermit crabs and various shell fish and birds and even random dog. in the evening after supper we went for a walk down to the beach again to enjoy the sunset.

the next day, the friend's son-in-law picked me up and brought me to a local farmers market. then we drove to nanaimo and ahd some of the best sushi i have ever had. we sat at the sushi bar and it was really cool to see the chef make the food. we were never quite sure if what he was making was for us or for other customers in the restaurant. then i took the ferry back to vancouver and headed to a hockey game. the canadian i met in rome that lives in vancouver works for the vancouver giants, the hockey team one level down from the nhl and she had gotten me tickets for the team's home opener. so with jenn and her boyfriend, i watched a hockey game. the game was really good. the score was 0-0 after the first period. then in the second, vancouver scored 3 goals in about 5 minutes and by the end of the period it was 6-0. and by the end of the game it was 9-0. because the home team scored 6 points we got a coupon for a free entrees at one of the restaurants that seem to be everywhere in town: white spot (it's a decent place). and the pacific coliseum (which is a spitting image of the edmonton coliseum) had very interesting bathroom signs. more about the last few days in vancouver later.

vancouver and the islands

vancouver was my next stop on the canadian leg of the trip. i arrive tuesday 2 weeks ago and have really enjoyed my time here. the next day i went to the vancouver art gallery and saw an exhibition about haida art (from the tribe that lives on the queen charlotte islands) called raven travelling. it had stuff from the last 200 yrs with some more recent sculptures done by the grand kids and great grand kids of the artists from the 1800's. there was another exhibition with the theme of native art done by either ppl with european backgrounds like emily carr or by natives such as bill reid (he's the guy with the sculptures on the 20$ bill). it was really interesting to see. in the evening, with my mom's cousin and his wife, i headed to mayne island, one of the islands off of vancouver island. they have a cottage there so it was a good excuse to go out there. the place was beautiful and there were a lot of deer in the area. i managed to get a decent one of a fawn who had just been eating the leaves from the blackberry bushes.

on thursday, we came back to vancouver by ferry and i ran into a reccent graduate from the mcgill chem department! she happened to have grown up on the island that the ferry had just stopped at. it's crazy that you can be across the country in a ferry going to what you would think is the middle of nowhere and there is someone you know. the next day i visited ubc. the campus is absolutely gorgeous. and then took a walk along the sea wall to stanley park. on the way i got my photo taken with a fiber glass bear (there are so many of them around town!).

and then enjoyed some beer with a local (well a recent arrival to town)

it was so much fun to catch up on the recent news about montreal and the chem department. and of course the gossip.

the next day i headed out with the cousin's daughter to tour vancouver. we saw the capilano suspension bridge, lynn canyon, deep cove, and then went to see an alouettes-bc lions football game. it was weird to be the only on cheering for the alouettes and unfortunately they lost :( but the good thing about the game other than actually seeing a game this year was that they were handing out vouchers for the bc ferries for a free trip. that came in handy a few days later.
lynn canyon is much more wild and natural and dangerous than capilano suspension bridge. they both have a suspension bridge and a stream. but lynn canyon is dangerous! there is a huge sign warning ppl about all the different ways that ppl have died there in the last 30 yrs. one was a hiker who lost his footing and drowned and because of the force of the current, he had to be removed by rescuers using pullies and rope 5 days after he had fallen in. the guy had been drinking...

Monday, September 25, 2006

rockies and edmonton

It’s been a while since I last updated and it would probably be a good idea to write about Canada before heading off to Australia which will happen in about 48 hours!
For the Labour Day long weekend, I went camping with Karen, a friend from high school. We headed off early Thursday morning to make sure we were going to get a camping spot in Banff. It was raining on the drive down but by the time we got to Banff it was sunny again. We got there a bit after lunch and campground was almost empty. We set up camp and had lunch. We did pretty good getting the tent and a tarp over the picnic table up and collecting wood for that night’s fire in less than 2 hours. We then headed off for a walk to see the hoodoos in the rockies. It’s a limerock formation the usually has a harder rock cap on top of it so it looks like a series of mushrooms (a quarter from Canada’s 125th has the hoodoos from drumheller on it). The view was really nice although the hoodoos weren’t very impressive at least compared to the ones in drumheller. We then headed to sulphur mountain where you have a choice between a gondola ride and a steep climb so we took the gondola. The girl who sold us the tickets was from laval and use to live a few blocks from my house. The world is small!
It was cool at the bottom on the mountain and even colder at the top. I was wearing a wool sweater, a hoodie and a fleece, some of the kids up there were wearing shorts and wrapped in blankets! The rain we had seen on the drive down was snow at the top of the Sulphur Mountain. So on august 31st we had a snowball fight. You can see the town of Banff in the valley below and so many mountains around. The view was gorgeous. We then went back down the mountain and had a nice dip in the sulphur hot springs that are right next door. It was more than a dip as we stayed in there for about an hour and watched the sun set on the mountains that you see from the pool. Then off to the campsite to make supper.
The next morning we got going rather late and went for a hike at Johnston canyon. The first thing to see are the lower falls. Very nice and the walk up is rather easy. Then there are the upper falls further up that are just as nice if not nicer. That walk takes about a hour or two. But the main reason for going to Johnston canyon was to see the ink pots. They are pools of water that are various shades of green and blue found in a meadow with mountains surrounding the meadow. I remembered going there the last time I was in Banff so it mustn’t have been to hard to get to the ink pots since my mom was along on that trip. The thing I didn’t remember was the hike between the upper falls and the ink pots. It was up hill for a long time, much steeper than I thought, and then down hill for a while before you actually get to the ink pots. Totally worth it! We ate some of the snacks we had brought with us then headed back to the campsite to have supper and a good night sleep.
The next morning it warmed up, only needed about 2 layers of warm clothing. We walked along stewart canyon near lake minnewanka. We saw a deer, the biggest wildlife we saw on the trip although a black bear had been sighted in the area. The place was pretty quiet once you passed to bridge across the canyon because the path got a bit rougher. And at the end was a nice stream where you could just sit and watch nature. We then walked back to the lake and had lunch and headed into town. We walked along most of the streets in banff downtown and did some shopping. Then supper and another trip to the hot springs. It had been so cold during most of our time in the rockies that we had decided to go back to the springs and warm up a bit. The place was absolutely packed! It was Saturday evening after all. It was really hard to find a place to sit on the edge of the pool. We left after about an hour and got to bed early because the next day we were heading to drumheller.
In the morning we packed everything and were out of there in less than 3 hours. A nice drive through the rockies and calgary brought us to the royal tyrell museum. The best dinosaur museum ever! We went around the museum and found out stuff about the history of dinosaur discovery in Alberta and saw really cool skeletons. The place was filled with families. Karen and I felt a bit out of place since anyone our age there was either pregnant or had little kids along with them. We walked on a path that brought us through various badland landscapes. The landscape is beautiful. You can drive along in the prairies through fields of wheat and rye and then all of a sudden the road will go down into a valley that was carved out by the river and reveals the layers of soil that were there before it. The slopes look like a layer cake with different colours of soil. After the walk we headed to the hoodoos. It’s one of my favourite places in drumheller. The difference between the rockies and the badlands is huge but it was even greater since it was about 30 degrees that day while 2 days earlier in Banff we were wearing layers upon layers of warm clothing. After the hoodoos, we drove to Calgary to stay with some friends of the family. We enjoyed a good supper on the balcony while watching the sun set. It was great to sleep in a bed and not worry about whether or not we had enough blankets to keep warm throughout the night.
On Monday we went for a bike ride along the river valley. It’s really cool to be in a huge city and still see the mountains off in the distance. We saw the jets that had flown over the football stadium before the Edmonton-Calgary Labour Day game. We also saw some mounted police get their horses ready for a show nearby. A quick lunch and then a nice drive back to Edmonton.
My mom flew in to Edmonton on the Wednesday and the next day we headed up to the lake. It was really nice to be up there for a few nights. Then back to Edmonton to see the last few ppl I hadn’t seen yet while in town. My grandmother had a book launch on the Sunday, her ninth book, not bad for someone almost 90 yrs old. My cousin came by for supper on Monday with his girlfriend. And then Tuesday it was off to Vancouver.
It was really nice to be back in Edmonton for 3 weeks. It was like being home again and great to catch up with everyone I hadn’t seen in a yr or more.