The Enchanted Forest

My favourite family vacation almost came to a tragic end at the Enchanted Forest, near Revelstoke, British Columbia.  My mom, dad, brother (with a box of comics between us in the backseat) and I had just finished walking through the Enchanted Forest and piled into our two door blue Dodge Aspen, pulling our Boler trailer, when I became hysterical at the sight of a spider inside the car (I was five or six at the time) which caused my dad to almost veer across the road, and  plunge down a cliff, which surely would have lead to our demise. This is how I remember the scene, and it’s a story I’ve repeated for many years.  We also visited Bedrock City, a Flintstones theme park, and Old MacDonald’s Farm in Kelowna, and camped near Okanagan Lake where I hoped to spot the legendary lake monster, Ogopogo.

Alas, the two theme parks no longer exist, but the Enchanted Forest still beckons weary travellers on the Trans Canada Highway to stop and walk through an old growth forest full of delightful fairy tale characters.  This summer, I wanted to see if it was as magical as I remembered.

Here’s how the Enchanted Forest started..

how it began

And some of the scenes you’ll see…

cow jumped over the moon

there was an old woman 1red doortea for twodwarfsstorkTortoise and the hareMary, Mary

old woman hat

not sure about this one

Not sure which fairy tale this is?

Wedding partygingerbread man and foxwolftroll under the bridgepeaking out the windowwingsfollow the yellow brick road

Oh, and as we pulled out of the parking lot, I made sure to note just how far down that cliff was…..there was no cliff.

ceilings of the Louvre

“Remember to look at the ceilings in the Louvre!”

That’s the advice I took to heart in Paris.  The Louvre is intimidating – it’s the biggest and most visited museum in the world, so not only is there so much to see (over 35 000 works of art), you are often jockeying for a prime position to view a piece of art.  My advice to both beat the line-ups and to navigate through the crowds is to book a skip the line tour.  I booked an Express Tour through Viator, and with our guide, our group breezed through the line, and we were provided with a good overview of the collection. By no means did we see it all (that would take months!), but it was a solid introduction.

And, honestly, mostly I took pictures of the ceilings! Amazing!

Louvre Ceiling 6Louvre ceiling 3Louvre Ceiling 5Louvre ceiling 2Louvre ceiling 7 (1)Louvre Ceiing 4Louvre ceiling

In Paris….around every corner…

…is something delightful to discover! The Stravinsky Fountain was on my list….and we happened on it accidentally after a wine tasting lunch while walking through the historical Beaubourg District.

Stravinsky Fountain 9Stravinsky Fountain 8Stravinsky Fountain 3Stravinsky Fountain 1Stravinsky Fountain 4Stravinsky Fountain 7

I love this mural by Jef Aerosol called Chuuutttt!

Stravinsky Fountain 5 and muralStravinsky Fountain 6Jef Aerosol mural 2Jef Aerosol Muralchuuutttt!

A few days into the trip, after lucking out and just coming upon the Fountain, the guidebook was left behind, and the list of carefully chosen restaurants and cafes (after much research on the internet and consulting guidebooks) was deleted from my phone.  There is so much to discover in Paris if you just open your eyes and look around. Plus you don’t need a guidebook to tell you where to eat!  Read the posted menu outside the restaurant and decide if it sounds appealing – the only advice I followed was choosing restaurants that were at least a few blocks away from a major tourist attraction as the food is generally better (and less expensive – you’re not paying the tourist prices). I read that advice in a guidebook, and it made sense to me.

Travel is meant to be fun and eye-opening.  You miss out on experiencing what a place is really like if you’re constantly consulting a guidebook or Google Maps on your phone to find directions to that “perfect” restaurant.

 

Just go!

Posts have been few and far between for a number of different reasons, but quietly in the background, a trip to Paris has been planned! It’s getting very close to lift off, and I hope to have many pictures to share in the weeks to come.

somewhere over Minnesota, March 2016

Everyone I’ve talked to about Paris seems to have a strong opinion. It’s beautiful! The food was amazing! Wine is cheap! Paris in the Spring! You’ll love it! People are rude! Dog poop is everywhere! I would never go back!  I’ve tried to take those opinions with a grain of salt because travel is very personal, What one person thinks is an amazing destination, is on another person’s “I would never go there!” list.  (Jamaica is on that list for me.) My only travel advice is if you want to go somewhere, just go!

I thought it would be fun to pick just one photo from each of the last few trips to capture what I liked the most about each one.

Elk Island National Park, near Edmonton Alberta, Summer 2017 (one of the best places to watch a sunset!)

 

Puerto Vallarta, Banderas Bay, March 2017

 

Island Lake Lodge, August 2016 for a classic Canadian wilderness scene.

Prince Albert National Park, June 2016 (another classic Canadian wilderness scene)

New Orleans, March 2016. This was a hard one because I pretty much love everything about New Orleans. But one of my favourite things was walking along Royal Street at night in the French Quarter to take pictures of the window displays. This was in the window of the Red Truck Gallery.

Jasper National Park, July 2015. I love talking animal pictures.

Watching surfers, Maui, March 2105

This is not far from home at all…near Regina, summer 2015

Butchart Gardens, Victoria, BC, June 2014

…and still one of my favourite pictures I’ve ever taken…Great Bear Rainforest, June 2013

All of these pictures make me realize I’m very lucky to be able to travel and to see and experience many different places.

Great Bear Rainforest

You only need sit still long enough in some attractive spot in the woods that all its inhabitants may exhibit themselves to you by turns.  Henry David Thoreau

In the case of these photos, the attractive spot was on the water, in a zodiac with six other people being as still and quiet as possible to observe this grizzly in the Great Bear Rainforest in June, 2013.  I can’t believe it’s been four years since that trip!  I still think about it often and I’m grateful to have memories of spending eight days on a boat exploring a very unique, beautiful, wild, and amazing place in my own country.

Great Bear Rainforest 4Great Bear Rainforest 2Great Bear Rainforest 1

Great bear Rainforest

One of my favourite photos ever – look at that face!!!

 

 

 

 

up on the roof

Still have some Puerto Vallarta pics to share which is a good thing! Between being busy at work and figuring out how I’m going to handle my workload, and being uninspired by the April landscapes this year, I haven’t picked up a camera in awhile. The prospect of May flowers, though, will change that soon!

If you’re interested in traveling and experiencing different places, I really encourage you to think differently about your accommodations and look beyond hotels and resorts.  Renting a house was not without frustrations – there were a few pool issues to be sorted out which meant contacting the owner in Texas and then dealing with the property manager who lived across the street and was extremely busy running a fishing boat charter company, and a language barrier with the pool guy.  Also, because the house was for sale, there were a few showings, but we knew that a possibility before renting, and received a discount for the inconvenience.  Some people have asked if there were any worries about renting a place online because what if the place doesn’t look like the pictures and you’ve spent all that money and it ends up being in a bad neighbourhood?  You do need to do some research.  I looked on AirBnB and Home Away.  Read the reviews, then try to read between the lines of those reviews.  I only look at places that have more than 5 reviews, preferably more (because it’s pretty easy to get three of your friends to give you a good review!). If there’s an address look it up on Google Maps street view.  Establish a rapport with the owner either by phone or email  – do they respond to your inquiries quickly and answer your questions?  This all sounds like it takes some effort, but I enjoy it! Keep in mind, this was for a two week stay, and a good portion of the travel budget was going towards accommodations.  I wouldn’t put this much effort into a three day stay, for example.  Ultimately, the house in Puerto Vallarta was chosen for its million dollar views and my bucket list rooftop, private pool! All the research paid off! All the pics were taken from the rooftop.

The sunsets!

oh the sunsetsalone on the oceansetting sun

The neighbourhood…5 de Diciembre

stained glassbrick buildingmagic hourmountain vista-2open windows-2palm trees and hanging clothes

all in a day's work

Felt a little nervous for this guy painting on the roof!

hillside

And the iguana who liked to sun himself on the ledge of the house’s second level.

so handsomeiguana

 

walking in Puerto Vallarta

Puerto Vallarta is a wonderful city.  It also made me mad, sometimes!  (Mad, might be too strong a word).  But, the great thing about travel is it makes you adapt.  You can’t think things are going to be like they are at home.  That’s the point of travel – to see and experience different things. Case in point, in Puerto Vallarta, the pedestrian never has the right away and drivers never use their signal lights. You learn this fast. You never know if you should actually step off the curb to cross the street, because the person who may actually appear to be going through the intersection, is actually going to turn right. So, you wait, or run (more  like that nervous traveler fast walk across the street, clutching bag to hip). Everyone drives and talks on their phone (even the bus drivers barreling down the cobblestone streets). Once you get about two or three blocks off the main tourist streets, the sidewalks are extremely uneven.  For someone like me, who likes to gawk at things and take pictures, and is also a little clumsy, this is a precarious situation.  But, you learn to adapt. And it actually becomes part of the charm.

Here are some pictures from a walk through one of my favourite neighbourhoods in Puerto Vallarta:

favourite streetsteps to si senor restaurantPV NeighbourhoodPV Neighbourhood 3PV Neighbourhood 2blue doorcandy can windowscolourFungus Fou