Wednesday, November 15, 2017

Travels in beautiful British Columbia

Okay, it's time to get back to my across Canada series. Now to the most westerly province in Canada.  I've been traveling to British Columbia for most of my life you could say, being as my first trip was with my parents at age eight.

There was a huge gap however between my last childhood trip at age 12 and my first trip as an adult.  That last childhood trip was memorable mainly because it was the summer of 1964 when Beatlemania was in full swing.  And I was one of the Beatles most fervent fans...and still am!  Our hosts, who were friends of my parents drove us past Empire Stadium where the Beatles were to play the following month and I still remember screaming and crying and pounding the window of the car when I saw it.  And begging my parents to let me stay with their friends for another month so I could go and see them. (probably leaving my parents' friends to be happy they were raising boys, not girls)  Sure kid..NOT.  I begged them to let me stay the entire time we were there and probably sulked in the car the whole way home  Hmmm..any wonder that was my last childhood trip with my parents?

I didn't get back to British Columbia for over 15 years and that was to visit my BFF Linda and her family in Golden and Dawson Creek.  Sorry, too lazy to dig out the photo albums and scan photos! 

Vancouver is my favourite "go to "spot in British Columbia - what can I say...I am a city gal!  I love the mix of the ocean and the mountains.  Every time I visit I think to myself "why don't I come here more often?" as it's just a two-hour flight from my hometown.  I would probably live there if it wasn't so darn expensive but sometimes places are sweeter just to visit than to actually live there 24/7. Here are some of my favourite pictures of the city I tend to visit at least every two years.

One of my very favourite things to do in Vancouver is to walk the Seawall around Stanley Park.  It is one of my "happy places" on this earth.

Siwash Rock with Prospect Point look out above 

Above is Girl in a Wetsuit, a sculpture by Elek Imredy.  It reminds me of the Little Mermaid in Copenhagen.  I remember visiting one year and she was wearing a Vancouver Canucks (hockey team) Jersey! I hate hockey but I must admit that was cute.  The Lions on the Lions gate bridge (in photo) were sporting them as well!

Just looking at this photo makes me want to go back and test out Thelma on the trail.

You even get to do a bit of beachcombing on this walk.

And see the beautiful Totem Poles!!

I never get tired of this walk and I have walked it in all kinds of weather.  It is just something I have to do every time I am in Vancouver.  Last year when I was there I couldn't walk the whole way around and had to cut off into the park and got myself dreadfully lost (as you know, I am good at that) in the rain - but it was still worth it!!!  I can't wait to walk the whole way around again whenever I next make it to Vancouver.  (soon, I hope!)

Some other places I have enjoyed are going up Grouse Mountain.  It's not something I do every time I go as it's expensive but I last went up in 2014 when my friend Julie was over from Australia.  You can walk up or down using the "Grouse Grind" path (free) but the cable car is much easier!! 

I absolutely loved these beautiful wood carvings that were scattered around the mountain. These photos were taken in late May with still plenty of snow around.

And yes, they even have grizzly bears!  There are two orphaned bears living there - in huge enclosures.  They were rescued as cubs so cannot live on their own.  I am not sure if this is Grinder or Coola!

I enjoyed Capilano Bridge but once again you have to pay money to see it so it's not something I do often.  Definitely a must for the first time tourist though!  It gets fun if you get a bunch of rowdy kids running across - definitely not for those afraid of heights. 

This is the newest attraction - the Cliff walk.  It was beautiful! 

I absolutely loved and preferred Lynn Canyon Bridge because it's in a wilder location and free - and not as many tourists.  There is no shuttle from downtown - you have to get to North Vancouver (the most pleasant way is the sea bus) and take a bus from there.  I will definitely go back!

Okay, the bridge isn't as dramatic or long as the Capilano suspension bridge but the scenery is beautiful and it's freeeeeee.

.  The view from the bridge

A Vancouver walking friend came with me and we did a bit of a hike there which was so much fun.

There are so many places to visit in Vancouver - I could happily spend a month here.  Guess I will have to find a petsitting gig there someday!

Then of course there is Vancouver's been too long since I've been there...

Here is the iconic Empress Hotel in Victoria...a fixture on the beautiful waterfront. My favourite places in Victoria?  Beacon Hill Park's waterfront, Fisherman's Wharf and the shops on Government Street. (Murchie's Tea!!!).  The Royal British Columbia Museum is amazing.  Hmmm...I think I just talked myself into a trip back to's been almost seven years since I've been there.  Much too long! 

Of cousre I had to go where the doggies are!  Unofficial dog park in Beacon Hill park.

And the view isn't shabby either!! View of the Juan de Fuca Strait looking towards the Cascade Mountains in Washington state.

And then of course there is Buchart Gardens...always spectacular any time of year.

You can even go whale watching for Orcas out of Victoria!

Love the deserted beaches (in April & October anyway...) of Pacific Rim National Park on the west coast of Vancouver Island.

Sigh....beautiful deserted beaches where you actually want to witness a storm.  The waves are incredible and it truly is one of the most beautiful places on earth.

So many places to visit in British Columbia...last year I finally made it to Salt Spring Island which I immediately fell in love with.  I happily spent five days roaming around the island by public transit.

The ferry trip over to Salt Spring Island was amazing!!

I loved the Saturday morning market in Ganges, the main town on Salt Spring - and where I based myself at an Airbnb. 

This guy was waiting for me when I got back from exploring one day - I offered him a glass of some delicious local wine but he just flicked his tail and ran off.  Okay fine....more for me!

And then it was time to head back to Vancouver on this second trip in one and it never gets old!  Whee!  I even got to sit beside the pilot!

So many more places but this post is long enough - there are other provinces and territories to talk about! I have had so many adventures in British Columbia and I hope to have many more.

Saturday, November 11, 2017

Walking around Lansing, Michigan

When I knew I was going to visit Detroit I immediately thought "I must walk in Lansing!" being as it is the capital of Michigan and just a couple of hours by bus from the Motor City. I am on a quest to walk in all the state capitals in the United States.  I have done this for all the provincial and territorial capitals in Canada and have been working on the capital cities of the United States for 12 years now.  Yes, I'm taking my time.  Lansing was number 33. And yes, it's going to be a lifetime project but that's okay.  I am sure having fun doing it.  I love visiting cities that aren't on the tourist radar and "off the beaten path" so to speak.  Maybe because I live in one such city that people (especially to the ahem..west of here...) tend to sneer at and say "there is nothing there".  When someone says that about a place it piques my interest - there is always something of interest in every place no matter how small or insignificant. 

I took the Greyhound bus to Lansing (felt so good to be back on the 'hound again - how I loved my 'hound trips!) and then a taxi to my Airbnb which was close to the city centre.  The taxi driver sat in her van watching me as I struggled to pull my suitcase onto the back seats of the van...and then struggled to pull it off.  Ah well. Jessica, my host greeted me as well as her adorable doggie Cricket and her little son George.  I was her last Airbnb guest as she was very pregnant and in fact had a  baby girl a few weeks after I left.  I know I have said it over and over again but I do love Airbnb.  It has not only made long-term travel financially feasible for me but I get to meet the locals as well.  Jessica and her husband John are Canadians who are in Lansing temporarily while John goes to university.  We had fun discussing the quirks of Americans and their politics and military...and I will say no more! She made me awesome coffee in her high tech espresso machine.

LOOK AT THAT FACE!!!  I fell in love!

After dumping my stuff I headed out for a walk about the area and to pick up something to eat.  A sub did the trick so I came back and sat on the covered porch to enjoy that and my first taste of coke with pomegranate syrup in it.  Yum!

The next morning after a delicious coffee Jessica (with baby George) drove me to the donut shop downtown called Glazed and Confused.  I had a donut (yes, another one - I should call this one the "donut vacation") and another coffee (one can never have too much coffee in the morning) before heading out to explore.

I can highly recommend the donuts- well the one I had anyway! Yes, only one..I was a good girl!

Yes, I visited the Peanut shop and yes I bought a bag of mixed nuts.  I loved Lansing's small downtown area. 

And then it was time for my first stop - the State Capitol building which was just two blocks away.

Detroit was originally the state capital of Michigan but that honour was moved to Lansing in 1847. This building was opened and dedicated on January 1, 1879.  After a restoration it was rededicated on November 19, 1992.  This building was the first to have the iconic dome on the roof that so many state capitol buildings now have.

As always, I then entered the building to have a snoop around.  I prefer to grab a brochure and walk around on my own taking photographs rather than take a formal tour.  Let's just say I have lots of state capitol brochures in my collection!   The first thing to catch my eye was the interior of the dome.  It's called the Oculus or "eye of the dome" and is meant to provide "glimpse into the vastness of the universe, represented by a starry sky" according to the brochure.  What do you think?

I found it absolutely beautiful.

There are twenty of these beautiful chandeliers lighting the hallways - once lit by gas they now use lightbulbs.

The second floor of the rotunda with the Gallery of the Governors - portraits of former Michigan governors.

The House of Representatives Chamber.  I couldn't go into the Senate Chamber as a session was going on at the time.

Then it was time to head over to the Michigan State Museum to officially sign in for the walk (the person in charge had kindly sent me the walk instructions before I left on the trip) and visit the museum which was so interesting.  I love history and learning more about it so it was fun to learn more about Michigan.  I loved the music section the most needless to say but my photos of that are absolute crap so here's a photo of an automobile instead.  Why I take photos in museums is beyond me as I never look at them again but what can I's just how I roll.

After that measly (but decadent)  breakfast it was time for lunch so I wandered over for a late lunch at the Grand Traverse Pie Company which was on my list to visit.

Salad and kale/veggie quiche.  The pie was saved for my evening meal - it was a combination of berries - yum!

By this time I was getting pretty tired and the rain was pelting down so up went the umbrella for the walk back to the house (via Lansing College where I went inside and had a "sit down" for a while as I was pretty tired) where I relaxed for the evening. (and ate that piece of pie)

The next morning I headed over to Old Town to continue the walk - sticking to the walk route on the way of course.  My Airbnb was just three blocks off the route - perfect!

Loved this old-fashioned water fountain in Durant Park

View of the Grand River from the bridge in Old Town

I ate breakfast at a Mexican restaurant and enjoyed it but I won't show you a picture of my meal as it looks like something someone might have upchucked.  Didn't taste like it though!  There looked to be some neat shops as well as a coffee shop I wouldn't have minded checking out...if I just hadn't had a filling breakfast. 

Then it was time to set off down the path along the Grand River. 

Here is the Brenke fish ladder - now don't you have an image in her head of fish gallantly trying to climb a ladder. .   This helps them swim past the dam (pictured further above) without injury.

I loved this serene walk.

I took this personally as I have done my fair share of whining in the past 7 plus months! 

The Lansing Farmer market - I assume (really hope) that it is busier on weekends!  I did buy myself a jar of cherry ginger jam from one of the (very) few vendors...just because..who knew Michigan was famous for its cherries?  Well I didn't. 

Another great sign along the trail!

Heading back downtown with another view of the Capitol building.

I couldn't resist going back to the state capital to get a picture with the beautiful blue sky in the background - it was a little more crowded today.  Then it was time to head back "home" with a sit down on the veranda with my kindle. 

The next morning it was time to head out to Chicagoland so I needed to get to the Amtrak station which is in East Lansing.  Because of the unreliability of taxi cabs in the city, Jessica advised me to use Uber.  It was my first time and I was impressed as the car showed up in mere minutes with a friendly driver and no cash exchanging hands.  I was able to tip him later through the Uber app. 

I faithfully wore my Garmin watch for those two days and according to that I walked close to 15 km!  I was quite pleased with myself!  I doubt if my travels will ever take me back to Lansing and while I enjoyed it I can't think why I would go back beause after all I still have 17 state capitals left to visit!   However, I will certainly look back on my short time in Lansing with fond memories.

Another great big adventure coming right up! (2019 version)

Yes, it's time to hit the road again for my annual multi-month adventure.  This time I will be away just less than three months. I don&...